Exercises for sciatica: herniated or slipped disc | NHS

I’m a chartered physiotherapist. Today I’m going to talk to you
about exercises for a herniated or slipped disc. But first we need to understand a little
bit about the anatomy of the spine and where the disc is. So, this being the spine,
this is the skull. This is the pelvis. These are the vertebrae. The yellow things are nerves that are
in between each one of the vertebrae. These are the discs which are like washers in between
each one of the vertebrae. What happens with a herniated disc is the disc material comes out
a little bit. It puts pressure
on the surrounding area. It can be just locally or on the nerve.
If it’s on the nerve, it may well cause pain down the leg,
sciatica, into the buttock,
into the back of the thigh, or into the calf and even into the foot. The main aim is to take the pressure
off the nerve and help reduce the inflammation. We’re looking to give this area space
so that it can breathe. First I’m going to show you some
positions of comfort you can get into to help alleviate the pain
from a herniated disc. Come along onto your tummy, please. And if you can, lie on your tummy. If you do have this problem, you might
not get into this position so easily. Lie yourself down flat. Head down. In so doing,
we’re opening up the low back. That will allow things to settle down. This can help alleviate pain
in this area, in the buttock, in the hamstring,
in the calf and in the foot. The main aim is to take the pressure
off this area. Lying in this position for a while
can help settle down your symptoms. It’s quite tricky
to get into and out of, but it’s a position worth doing. Moving onto the next position, can you
come and lie on your side, please? Lying on your side can sometimes help
alleviate the discomfort. Again, you might not be able to move
into that position that easily. It’s quite often your problem side
is uppermost. Can you bend your knees
a little bit more? Both of them? We’re getting into a foetal position
which again gaps the area. I’m placing a pillow between your knees, particularly for those of you
with an hourglass figure. That can help settle things down and allow the spine to be
in a more comfortable position. Just lying facing that way. OK? If you’re lying on the floor, you might want to put something
under the side to flatten the area. Sometimes lying in this position can
help alleviate the pain. It’s for you to figure out whether this
is helping alleviate the pain. Come and roll onto your back, please. Lying on your back,
often putting a pillow… Lie yourself down flat.
..under your knees. What we often do if this position
is not quite giving you relief… It will give you relief
because it’s softening your low back. We often build up pillows a little bit
more, put more pillows under your knees. For some people, we even put a chair
on the bed or they lie on the floor. By being in this position, that will help alleviate your low back
and gap the area. Even lying on your back
with your legs on a chair can help take the pressure off the area. We’re going to move on to exercises now.
Just put your feet down. Again, the main aim is
just to be very gentle. Gentle exercises,
just to help prevent any muscle atrophy and keep things moving. If any of these give you pain
or discomfort, you must stop. The way to do it is
just some gentle pelvic tilting. So, if you feel my hand, squash my hand down while you’re
sucking your tummy muscles in. Again, you’re gapping the joint, holding
it there, starting to wake things up. You often do get some muscle atrophy.
The muscles switch themselves off. We want to keep working things. Relax. And again.
Squash down as hard as you can, but holding each one for five seconds. You can do those ten times.
Obviously, I won’t be there. If you want to have a go at putting
your hand under your back yourself… And just push down. Holding it, holding it, holding it. If you feel any pain or discomfort,
stop and let it go. That’s a very good one to get going.
You need to do ten of those. The next one is buttock squeezing. And squeezing your buttocks. Squeezing your buttocks
as hard as you can. And relax. None of this should give you
any pain or discomfort. You can do ten of those,
holding each one for five seconds. When you feel ready, it’s very important to return to work
or to activity as soon as possible, however moderate it is. So, think about swimming
or cycling or gentle walking. Just some rhythmical exercises
that won’t aggravate you, that will just get you going. The sooner you return,
the better you’ll be. It’s very important that you have
proper resolution of your herniated disc so you don’t get another recurrence. So, a return to activity
as soon as possible. Respect the pain.
Also, look at things like weight. Weight is a big thing that can actually
put a lot of strain on your discs. Your posture at work, be it in the car,
be it at your desk… Your posture in bed,
what position you’re lying in. Make sure that your spine
is well-supported. And exercises. We’re leading sedentary lifestyles.
You’ve got to keep strong. Make sure you’re taking breaks
during the day at work, going for walks,
keeping strong and keeping mobile. IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY PAIN

34 thoughts on “Exercises for sciatica: herniated or slipped disc | NHS”

  1. Thank you for posting this informative video. Will continuous habit of doing these exercises will remove the pain permanently?

  2. it has been almost 2 years that i am suffering from disc bulge
    I've done MRI 2 times and X-rays 4 times but it just says a minor disc bulge thats it .
    but its not recovering at all. the pain has started to affect my left thigh muscles too and its hard for me to walk nowadays. Can some please help me .

  3. Finally somebody who understands that you can't get into some if the exercise positions as it almost makes u pass out.
    I am in the USA now and I do not like the chiropractic service here. And could really use a professional osteopath.

  4. This seems to be contrary to Mckenzie advice, except for the final keep mobile part.
    "Treat Your Own Back" 

  5. Thanks. The chair under the legs laying on the carpet is like heaven. been in a lot of pain for 2 weeks and a day.

  6. I lived in back pain for so long that I had no idea what normal life was. I gave my girlfriend at the time (now wife) 2 good years, out of the 8 years we have been together. I had herniated (some portion) of 2 discs in July of 2012, but it was only treated by the doctors (even the E.R.) , as just a pinched nerve. They gave me EVERYTHING they had and yet didn't / couldn't touch my pain…not even take the edge off. Numerous medical professionals and my finanaces told me that I should just give it time. Since the business that I was working for (for only 4 months), had a willingness to pay me 40 hrs a week while I was off, all while he still covered the deduction like insurance premiums and all that….as long as it wasn't a BWC case. Looked good to me in the short run.. [Got hurt while working, was scared I'd lose my job since I was new and couldn't come to work for an entire month, but instead he's going to pay me 40hrs a week.] After I had only shelled out $200 max in med. bills…It seemed like this guy must "Really like me to do this. "… Making good money and paying my taxes while playing Xbox. FAST FORWARD 1 YEAR I wasn't ready for myself to notice my left leg muscles are all small and won't flex.. My P.C.P. called for m.r.i. (ASAP) and 9 days afterwards his friend the orthopedic surgeon did double discectomy and double laminectomy. I felt amazing for the next 11 months from the moment I woke up. He released me ri work despite me telling him I mainly install commercial glass as being a glazier. He released me to work full duty 3 months later and yet told me to lift smartand not to grab "the 8th bag of groceries." . Wife and I got married Oct. 25th 2018 and 7 days into our honeymoon my left leg turned to stone. We came home and i made an appointment with my same orthopedic surgeon. Another emergency m.r.i. and immidiate double discectomy and double laminectomy. SAME 2 DISCS HE TOOK FROM 11 MONTHS EARLIER!!!! I posed it like I was joking but I told him that " I still have the original reciepts and wondered if this was under warranty?" He didn't seem to like me anymore. Lol! True though. From the moment I woke from that 2nd surgery, I've wanted to die. I don't do suicide, but prayed to die. Pain like I listed an hour ago… ha! FAST FORWARD 6 YEARS…: 23 days ago I had a neurosurgeon, whom I got to know very well first. He wasn't fast to cut into me. He reminded me that I was young and in great shape. I had E.S.I. (epidural steroid injection) I tried all the exercises, tens units, wraps, creams, over the counter, and over the border drugs. Nothing helped quite like getting drunk….daily……in front of your friends and wife. Some times I guess it was pretty embarrassing (they tell me)… Years of pain, hating life other than my wife, and being a turd of an example of a man at home, while I take advantage of my wife's good nature and patience. The moment I woke up from my fusion of the L4-L5 / L5-S1 with hardware, 33 staples, interior sutures, a hose out of my back, and "peter"………I FELT LIKE I WAS THE GUY MY WIFE MARRIED AGAIN. Sure, because of one fraudulent business owners actions it's cost me $13-15k of end result out of pocket cost (including this surgery), I quit that place 4/30/10 due to the cancerous relationship that working for a man who owes you money can create. My wife and I still haven't been able to make the next steps after our marriage due to my pain for 5 years and finances. Check me out though. I may be the SUPER DUPER BEST SPINAL FUSION RECOVERY CASE EVER!!!! GOD blesa anyone who lives with any kind of pain. You can slowly make money back, but not those wasted years…Hell, a "well known" BWC attorney talked to me for over an hour and he was like, "You're gonna be rich!" All of the sudden I'm his TOP priority.. I get my hopes up and he calls me like 18 days, and lots of my texts / calls / VM's later and sad he spoke to several people he knew and the case would be dead in the water due to statute of limitations and yada-yada. I left it at that and now even though my wife and I haven't had that extra $$$ we've had to rent for 6 years at $500 more a month than the mortgage would've been….. okay…..I'm done……God bless!

  7. Thanks for this video. The lying on your belly position has been helping me. I have 3 hernias. T12, L5, and C4 or C5 (not sure about this last one) But doing any small task is painful. I'm so tired of living with back, shoulder, and neck pain 🙁 🙁 🙁

  8. Most herniated discs are self-limiting so find a position that gives comfort and wait it out. Then start fixing maladaptive postures when the pain is tolerable.

  9. I've been in pain for nearly 2 years. Been to chiropractic sessions but the pain comes back after a day or two.i saw a physiotherapist and that made my pain 10 times worst. I was getting home from work nearly collapsed in pain. Tried taking medication but it doesn't help

  10. These moves look to be in conflict with each others!!! first one is extension and then is flexion of the back!!!! Very confusing….

  11. So I’m 2 years on from my slipped disc and I still occasionally get pain. I was told in about 5 years you tend to find out how good you’re going to be and that it’s comparable to what you’d get with surgery. Is this accurate?

    I’m able to do yoga, martial arts and weight lifting, I just find every now and then I get a small back pain where the disc presses on the nerve

Comments are closed.