When diagnosing a herniated disc, many people automatically think of pain, complicated spine surgery, and a lengthy rehab. But thanks to new treatments such as microtherapy, sufferers can be spared surgery. In microtherapy, drugs are injected directly into the herniated disc with a fine injection needle, thus stimulating a healing process directly in the body.
The cause of the pain
A herniated disc often triggers a painful inflammation of individual nerve roots on the spine. Bony narrowing of the spine or scarring from previous disc surgery can also cause similar pain. In many patients, the pain of the nerve roots on the spine radiate into the arms and legs.
As micro-therapies try to stem this pain and remedy the cause of the pain, they are also called image-guided back pain therapies.
Reduced risk due to microtherapy
The orthopedist Christian Mauch explains the advantage of the treatment: "While a few years ago, one operated quite generously, today one tries to avoid a complex operation - thanks to refined and microtherapeutic methods - as far as possible.
With the injection, there is little danger of long-term damage to sensitive structures such as nerves in the vicinity of the affected disc. Another advantage is that the micro-therapy takes place on an outpatient basis and only with local anesthesia. Thus, a longer hospital stay is not necessary. "
Areas where microtherapy can be used
In principle, the various micro-therapies can be used in all patients who feel a painful irritation of the spinal cord nerves.
- Herniated disc or bulge
- Stenoses (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- acute or chronic lumbar pain
- Discomfort in areas of the sciatic nerve
- Facet joint osteoarthritis (vertebral joint wear)
- degenerative spinal disorders
- Foramenstenosen (bony constrictions of the spine)
What happens with microtherapy?
During the 20-minute procedure, anti-inflammatory agents are injected directly into the intervertebral disc under the constant control of computerized tomography (CT). First, the hollow needle, a millimeter-sized probe, is exactly introduced to the affected part of the disc, where the active solution is then injected.
This solution causes a swelling of the tissue from grape to raisin size. At the same time the aching nerve is temporarily stunned and the pain and inflammation hormones are washed away. The drugs used are usually cortisone or the body's own Orthokin®.
These active ingredients are extremely effective in a relatively small amount by the local application. Since the needle is very thin, the treatment is painless or even painless, depending on the sensation of pain.
If there is an incompatibility for the conventional medicines, for some time, the microtherapy with natural remedies is possible.
Alternatively, the damaged tissue can be resolved with a type of laser.
Areas of application and types of microtherapy
After damage to the small vertebral joints, these treatments may find application:
- facet block
- facet infiltration
- Facet coagulation with laser
These nerve root treatments can help with nerve root pain:
- periradicular infiltration
- epidural infiltration
- percutaneous laser nucleotonomy
To treat the narrowing of vertebral and nervous channels, these therapies come into question:
- periradicular injection
- epidural injection
Duration of therapy
The duration of treatment with a micro-therapy depends on the intensity and frequency of the complaints. In general, the method is repeated four to six times every two to four weeks.
Thus, a significant relief of pain or even complete freedom from complaints can be achieved. Thereafter, a control MRI should be performed at intervals of three, seven and twelve months.
Side effects of microtherapy
Complications or severe side effects are rare with microsurgery. In some cases, there may be minimal bruising in the puncture area. Occasionally there is also a temporary numbness in the arms and legs. However, microsurgery is not advisable during pregnancy or blood clotting disorders.
Prevent herniated discs
In order for a micro-therapy is not even necessary, one can do his intervertebral discs regularly something good. A healthy disc contracts or expands depending on the load, absorbing important nutrients.
For a healthy intervertebral discs, therefore, regular exercise and the avoidance of too much stress on the intervertebral discs are particularly beneficial.
Takeover of the costs by the health insurance
Most health insurances cover the costs of a micro-therapy completely or at least in large part. The share of reimbursement usually depends on the extent of disc change, the severity of the pain, and the services offered by each clinic.