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Herniated disc – causes, symptoms and treatment

What is a herniated disc?

Disc herniation is one of the most common diseases of the spine. It usually occurs due to degenerative, traumatic changes in the intervertebral discs, disc wear, and more.

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It regularly happens that we do not pay enough attention to the pain in the back, lower back or some other parts of the body, but they can be a warning that we have serious health problems. In the following lines we will tell you more about the disease, including how it can be cured.

Disc herniation is a disease of the spine characterized by rupture of the outer fibrous ring of the intervertebral discs. As a result, a deformation of the softer central part occurs, which enters the spinal canal. This compresses the structures in it, and from there the sharp pains and serious problems for the body begin.

These changes can occur on any disc that is part of the spine. The most common forms of the disease are cervical (in the region of the neck) and lumbar disc herniation (in the lower back).

The latter one is the most “popular”, and in addition to low back pain, it can also cause pain in the legs. There is also thoracic (in the chest area), but it is less common.

These three conditions usually occur between the ages of 30 and 50. They often occur due to the wear of the discs, which are compressed during strenuous physical work.

With a herniated disc, compression of the nerve roots can also occur. As a result, a number of neurological symptoms such as changes in motor activity or sensitivity occur.

What causes the disease?

It regularly happens that we do not pay enough attention to the pain in the back, lower back or some other parts of the body, but they can be a warning that we have serious health problems. In the following lines we will tell you more about the disease, including how it can be cured.

Disc herniation is a disease of the spine characterized by rupture of the outer fibrous ring of the intervertebral discs. As a result, a deformation of the softer central part occurs, which enters the spinal canal. This compresses the structures in it, and from there the sharp pains and serious problems for the body begin.

These changes can occur on any disc that is part of the spine. The most common forms of the disease are cervical (cervical) and lumbar disc herniation (in the lower back).

The second is the most “popular”, and in addition to low back pain, it can also cause pain in the legs. There is also thoracic (in the chest area), but it is less common.

The listed diseases usually occur between the ages of 30 and 50. They often occur due to the wear of the discs, which is forced during heavy physical work. With a herniated disc, compression of the nerve roots can also occur. As a result, a number of neurological symptoms such as changes in motor activity or sensitivity occur.

The symptoms are…?

They can be very diverse, as they are determined by the location of the disc herniation and its size.

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The main symptoms of the disease occur when the nerve roots and spinal cord are compressed by the intervertebral discs. Characteristics are local pain in the back, waist, legs or feet, resulting from the area of involvement, as well as location in the sensory part of the affected nerve root. There are also changes in sensitivity, pelvic-bladder disorders, and it is possible to develop motor weakness (weakness in the legs and feet).

The onset of symptoms of a herniated disc often comes with pain in the back or neck, which in the following weeks turns into root pain. In addition to the already mentioned excessive physical exertion, the cause of these unpleasant changes in the body can be, for example, sudden movements or prolonged standing in an awkward position.

When sneezing, coughing or defecating, the pain intensifies. Sometimes it comes from taking a position in which patients bend to one side, restricting their movements.

This occurs when experiencing severe discomfort and at times quite sharp pain. In some cases, for example in the presence of a large medial disc herniation, it is possible to lose sensation in a number of areas, severe leg pain and pelvic- bladder disorders.

How is it established?

As with all other diseases of the musculoskeletal system and to establish the symptoms of disc herniation and for accurate diagnosis, the first step is a visit to a specialist. Based on  consultation and the physical examination, the doctor prescribes a number of tests to diagnose a herniated disc.

X-ray examination

If the specialist cannot reach the correct conclusions from the physical examination alone, he sends the patient for an X-ray. This test will not show that the patient has a disc herniation, but thanks to it the expert can rule out other possible causes of back or lower back pain such as tumors, infections, spinal deformities, and other conditions.

Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging

This type of test can determine with great precision what is causing the symptoms of a herniated disc. MRI is much more reliable because it provides an accurate kind of map of the patient’s internal organs and bone structure. Thanks to the nuclear magnetic resonance, the doctor can “detect” if there is a problem with wear of the discs or with the fibrous ring or if changes in the interverbal discs are observed.

Computed tomography

Computed tomography is very useful when it is necessary to determine whether a person suffering from acute low back pain has a disc herniation, spinal stenosis, or any other changes in the vertebrae and fibrous ring of the spine.

Myelography

In this type of diagnostic test, a contrast fluid is inserted into the patient’s spinal canal, after which a standard X-ray is taken. In the photo, the specialist can clearly see if there are changes in the places where the nerves are compressed or pinched by the deformed intervertebral discs.

In recent years, this method for the diagnosis and treatment of back pain is used very rarely, as it is invasive and causes discomfort and pain to the patient. Myelography is used only if other diagnostic methods cannot help with the patient’s diagnosis.

EMG / NCS (Electromyogram and nerve conduction study)

The EMG test uses a device that reads and registers the electrical activity of the muscle nerves. The purpose of this device is to check whether the nerves are compressed or damaged.

The NCS nerve conduction test is usually performed in conjunction with an electromyogram. In this test, the nerves in one point of the body are stimulated with small electrical impulses, and they are read in another part of the body. The time it takes for the electrical impulses to travel through the nerves allows the doctor to determine if the patient is suffering from sharp and severe pain because he has a lumbar disc herniation.

In addition to these quite diverse methods of diagnosis, modern clinics for the treatment of discopathy perform a number of diagnostic tests. The patient’s lifestyle, body weight, comorbidities, previous fractures or injuries, exercise and others are also taken into account.

Only in this way can an accurate diagnosis be made and a disc herniation be treated.

How to treat yourself?

Most people suffering from the disease do not need surgical treatment. Mild to moderate pain can, for example, be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

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A commonly used and proven method of treatment is kinesitherapy. It is prescribed by a specialist, and its main purpose is to strengthen the muscles that support the spine.

Several therapeutic methods, such as ozone therapy, can also have a positive effect. In it, injections are made into the muscles near the vertebrae of the spine.

Ozone causes the oxidation of important structures that make up the core of the disk. In this way the metabolism in the problem area is improved, and both the disc size and the pain are reduced.

Spa treatment is also a commonly used method. For example, a procedure called water extension is applied – a type of stretching that uses weights placed on the waist and head.

Multi-component therapy also serves as a treatment. Among the ones used are manual therapy – massage, which aims to relax tense muscles, and hirudotherapy, which is a treatment with leeches.

Some of the other components are therapeutic gymnastics, traction (in which the patient is stretched with a device specially designed to combat the disease) and the use of caripazim – a preparation used mainly in more severe forms of disc herniation.

The Mackenzie Method is popular in the United States and Western Europe. It was developed in 1960 and is a type of therapeutic gymnastics. With a number of exercises, it can increase the distance between the vertebrae. This allows the discs to be retracted.

We should not rule out surgery as a treatment option. It is a good option especially for people with symptoms that worsen or remain the same, despite treatment. In such severe cases, some methods that are minimally invasive are preferred.

If this does not help, classic open surgery is used. It is important to note that well- planned physical activity can help a lot in overcoming a herniated disc. If you regularly move your body, practicing appropriate exercises for a set time and intensity , you cannot help but feel the positive change.

Complete rest and a lot of medication may seem like a more logical choice at first glance, but the truth is that lying down will only aggravate the problem. So you will not go wrong if you live more actively with the help of inversion tables, for example.

How do inversion tables help us?

If you have a herniated disc or other spinal problems, there is no room for despair. There is a home fitness device that is extremely useful in this regard. It is the Teeter Hang Ups inversion table, which is easy to use and is suitable for both passive and active exercises.

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The device also has a good psychological advantage – you can use it safely at home, at whatever time and in whatever way you choose. This way, you will not have to worry about other people’s curious looks about what health problems you have.

Thanks to the inversion tables you will quickly feel a positive change in your body, as long as you find some time for exercise – a few minutes, and not necessarily every day. Practicing with this device moves the body, but does not strain it. The muscle connections are balanced and the pain gradually decreases. In addition to being non-strenuous, the exercises are easy and are recommended for anyone with a herniated disc and other back problems.

There are two types of inversion tables in Bulgaria. One is the American Teeter inversion table and the other is Emer, which is manufactured in the company’s Chinese plants.

You can safely trust them – Teeter has been producing these tables since 1981 and has definitely taken a leading position in world markets. We have already hinted that Teeter inversion tables allow you to do active and passive exercises. The former help to strengthen the main muscles, increase flexibility, raise the overall muscle tone, and shake off stress.

In the passive ones, in which there is no effort, the discs and joints are renewed. The main function of this fitness device is that it inclines at an angle set by you. You can also hang completely upside down. The positive effect begins to be realized at an angle of about 20 degrees, and at 60 a complete release of the accumulated tension in the spine is reached.

Studies show that most users prefer to hang upside down, as this gives their body the opportunity for more stretching and exercise. With the inversion table you can do rotations, sit-ups, and squats.

To feel the beneficial change in the body, it is enough to use the inversion table between three and five times a week, from five to seven minutes each time. The device is designed to be suitable for use by people with a wide range of height and weight. Just a few people are  unable to “fit” in its size. The inversion table is also easy to set up, and once assembled, it folds easily and fits into most storage spaces.

Be sure to enjoy the positive effects of Teeter inversion table – they have already helped and continue to help millions of people recover from back pain and diseases such as herniated discs and stenosis.

Achieving good health isn’t a unattainable goal. It can be achieved without undue effort. So now is the time to “drive” the pain out of your life with special inversion table!

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