Activities That Will Aggravate a Herniated Cervical Disc

A herniated cervical disk can cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness that can begin in the neck and radiate into the arms and hands. A herniated disk, also called a slipped disk or ruptured disk, occurs when a small portion of the fibrous cushioning between the vertebrae pushes out of alignment and compresses the spinal cord or spinal nerves. According to the Mayo Clinic, conservative treatments are usually best to treat a herniated disk. To aid in recovery, you should avoid certain activities.

A man sits hunched at his desk, typing on his laptop computer. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

Avoid Poor Posture

You should avoid poor posture to prevent aggravating a herniated cervical disk. Poor posture prevents your neck from being in the correct alignment to allow the herniated disk to heal. In addition, it can worsen the herniated disk and increase the risk of a second disk herniation. When you see your doctor, ask if physical therapy is an option for your treatment. A physical therapist can teach you different exercises that will help improve your posture. Medline Plus states that these exercises will strengthen the muscles that support the spine.

In addition, you should make an extra effort to sit and stand up straight, especially when working at a computer or when driving. Make sure the level of the computer screen is at eye level to improve your work posture. When driving, make sure your seat is up straight and that you are not too far away from the steering wheel.

Avoid Contact Sports

Avoid contact sports such as football, basketball, rugby, karate and boxing. These sports increase the risk of your neck's being exposed to a high-level impact that may worsen the alignment of your cervical spine and exacerbate your symptoms.

Avoid Diving

Diving, especially high diving, can worsen the symptoms of a herniated disk. This is an activity that you should avoid because the velocity in which your head comes into contact with the water allows a significant force to be placed on your neck. This can worsen the disk herniation or increase your risk for a second herniation. Wait until you are cleared by your doctor to continue participating in this activity.

Avoid Overstretching

Although light neck stretching may be of benefit, you should avoid overstretching your neck. Overstretching can cause too much strain to be placed on your neck, which may increase the pressure placed on your herniated disk and prevent it from healing. Therefore, follow the exercise recommendations given to you by your doctor or physical therapist.

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