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Herniated disc: definition, causes and symptoms

The herniated disc is the most common disease of the disc. But not the most common. In younger people, it is primarily a herniated disc. In older patients, chronic spinal loads tend to lead to a so-called spinal canal stenosis, that is, a wear-related narrowing of the spinal canal. The wear of the intervertebral disc begins as early as mid-twenties: its increasing loss of water compresses the intervertebral body together. This leads to an overload of the small vertebral joints and gradually to an instability of the spine and thus the herniated disc . The body tries to support the affected part of the spine by bony attachments. This bone thickening can narrow the spinal canal so much that the spinal cord or nerves are compressed. Symptoms are severe pain, especially with exercise and exercise. Typical is also a weakness in the legs. That means, in severe cases, those affected can go only a few meters and then have to take a break.

This is why we also speak of spinal column disease. In contrast to the intermittent claudication caused by vascular deposits. Triggers may be an overload of the spine or even a wrong move. There is no specific risk group. In addition to a certain predisposition, lack of exercise and poor posture promote the herniated disc. The fiber ring that surrounds the gelatinous core ruptures. The consequence: The nucleus of the jelly comes out and presses on the nerves or the spinal cord. The most commonly affected vertebrae are in the lumbar region (62%) and in the cervical region (36.1%). Rarely affected is the thoracic spine (1.9%). Signs of a herniated disc are severe pain radiating into one or both arms or into one or both legs. The herniated disc may be associated with numbness or paralysis.

Herniated disc: treatment

First, one tries to postpone an OP with conservative therapies as long as possible. So by physiotherapy, massages and heat applications. But this process usually can not be stopped, the statics of the spine is further weakened. An acute herniated disc is only operated on very severe pain or paralysis. Because the body helps itself. This means that the pinched nerve is inflamed, and the inflammatory substances break off the exiting gelatinous core in about eight weeks. This also improves or disappears the pain. That applies to 80 percent of the cases. During this time, the doctor prescribes painkillers and muscle relaxant therapies. Most importantly, the patient continues to move normally. If the patient has neurological deficits, such as paralysis in the legs or bladder, or if he can only walk a few meters, minimally invasive surgery will help. The cut is small, about three centimeters long. Unlike in the past, today no longer the entire intervertebral disc is cleared away, but only removed, what has pushed out. That is, the thickening of the bone is removed and the canal widened. Thus, the nerves that supply the legs, bladder and intestines, get more space again. The herniated disc pain is relieved or even stopped. The patients are quickly fit again, can walk around the next day. These operations are performed by neurosurgeons and orthopedists. The former usually recommend minimally invasive procedures.

Prevention and self-help with herniated disc

To prevent a herniated disc, you should make sure very early that you have a strong trunk muscles. Sports such as backstroke, crawl, water aerobics, jogging, hiking or yoga are particularly suitable. In addition, one should pay attention to a healthy diet and be careful not to develop obesity, as this burdens the back and the intervertebral discs. Chairs should have a rather straight back, which allows you to sit upright. The seating position should be changed frequently. Tip: A wedge-shaped seat cushion is ideal for the back and against a herniated disc. Soft and deep chairs, sofas or armchairs should be avoided. It is also helpful to work standing up more often. In this case, the workplace must be so high that permanent standing is possible. Objects that are often needed should be in an easily accessible ear, as this does not overstretch the cervical spine and overload it. Heavy loads should not be lifted at once, at best with help.

If you have to lift heavy objects, you should never do this with your legs outstretched and your spine bent. Here you should go to your knees, leave the spine stretched and so lift the heavy object "out of the legs". If you wear something heavy, always keep your arms close to your body and do not make a hollow cross. Even when sleeping, the spine should not bend, so a high-quality medium-hard mattress with good slatted is an important and good investment for your health and prevents a herniated disc.