If you are in pain you probably have been searching frantically for some neck exercises to do to ease you pain. If you have looked far and wide you have probably also noticed that there are a wide range of exercises out there available to you. But which ones to do? Do the wrong ones and you could make yourself considerably worse!
If you have a disc bulge or herniation it will more than likely be a posterior one as the majority are posterior bulges. The majority happen also around about the level of C7. I say the majority and this is nothing more than a brief outline. However, if you were to seek out exercises to lessen your pain and pinched nerve symptoms in your arm I suggest you look at ‘McKenzie Neck exercises’. These will help push the disc in the opposite direction away from the nerve. They should be done at least every two hours and you should see a reduction of symptoms in your arm or hands (depending on where your radiating symptoms happen to be). If the pain/numbness/pins and needles start to subside then that is a green light to continue doing these exercises to remove your pain. If the symptoms are worsened by doing these exercises you should stop them and you could try them again the next day when you neck has settled down a bit(if your neck if very acute). It is however, normal to have some discomfort in your neck when doing these exercises but that is all that it should be; nothing more than that-a bit of discomfort.
The major thing you are looking out for is whether your symptoms in your arm are getting better or worse from your exercises. This is telling you whether the exercises are making your condition better or worse and if the disc bulge is being directed away from the nerve or not.
If your symptoms are getting better doing the retraction exercises you should not do any flexion exercises. Do not do any exercises like bringing your chin to your chest. This will only push your disc further into the wrong direction.
A final note: please don’t listen to your well meaning friends. I had a client last week who had done this and had been doing everything that her friends had been telling her from yoga classes doing backbends to doing head stands. She could not have been doing much else to make her symptoms worse. All of the exercises she was doing pushed her disc in the wrong direction pinching the nerve more by bulging the disc further. She had been in severe pain for 2 months and after I had seen her she was pain free in minutes-after 2 months of suffering!