Poor posture, lack of exercise, one-sided stress - the pressure on the spine is a risk to the intervertebral disc. How can complaints be treated effectively? Disc damage is one of the most common causes of agonizing back pain. Problems on the intervertebral discs occur predominantly on the lumbar spine, more rarely on the cervical vertebrae and only very rarely on the thoracic vertebrae.
The intervertebral discs
The discs consist of a fibrous ring in which a gelatinous core is located. They lie between the vertebral bodies, make the spine mobile and act as a kind of "cushion". There are various reasons for the injury: too little exercise and predominantly sedentary activity make the abdominal and back muscles weaker. The spine is no longer sufficiently stabilized and the discs may bulge out. If the fiber ring tears and jelly mass comes out, it comes to the herniated disc.
Even those who put too many kilos on the scales risk disc problems. Overweight is one of the most important factors for the incorrect loading and premature wear of the intervertebral discs.
Misuse and lack of exercise
Anyone who handles heavy objects incorrectly or lifts too heavy loads can trigger an acute herniated disc. There is also a risk of overloading during pregnancy, because the center of gravity is shifted to the front, and as a result of the hormonal changes, more water is stored in the intervertebral discs. They lose stability, favoring an incident of the gelatinous nucleus.
Even accidents can result in a herniated disc, for example a stairway fall. Rarely, inflammatory processes are the cause of disc problems.
The correct diagnosis
Not every disc change must lead to discomfort. Symptoms only develop when a protruding disc pushes the surrounding nerves. Often this is expressed by drawing pain in an arm or leg, often associated with emotional disorders such as tingling or numbness. Pressing the disc against the spinal cord, an increasing weakness of both arms and legs is possible consequence. If the pressure on the nerves persists longer, paralysis symptoms may even appear.
In some cases, control of bladder and rectum function is lost. Sensory disorders in the genital area, on the inside of the thighs as well as paralysis of the legs are typical signs. Because the numbness in the area of the contact surface of a rider with the saddle occurs, this is also called riding anesthesia (anesthesia = anesthesia). Important for the diagnosis are first the medical history of the patient and an orthopedic-neurological examination.
Movement part of the treatment
In many cases it is already very likely to be stated at which point the intervertebral disc protrudes. Computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the affected spinal region can confirm or refute the diagnosis. Herniated discs that are not associated with paralysis, bladder or rectal disorder should be treated more conservatively - ie without surgery.
In the past, bed rest was first prescribed to the pain victims - that is no longer an issue today. On the contrary, targeted movement is part of the treatment right from the beginning. In physiotherapy, patients learn to move as painlessly as possible. At first, this often works only with painkillers and muscle relaxants.