Herniated disk is disease of certain disks which are located between spinal bones. Usually herniated disk develops if there was some kind of shift or rupture in the fibrous ring. The most common cases of disk herniation happen in lower back. Depending on location, there are lumbar disk herniation or cervical disk herniation.
In severe cases person can also have such herniated disk symptoms as:
If there are no signs of herniated disk, no treatment is needed.
Causes of herniated disk usually include:
The most common choice for diagnosis of disk herniation is magnetic resonance imaging or multisided computed tomography (MSCT). Nerve endings are very sensitive and to diagnose herniated disk a doctor usually needs to conduct several nerve endings studies to confirm diagnosis.
In most cases, the symptoms of herniated subside within six weeks after their appearance, then there is remission. Surgical intervention is required when there is recurrence of the disease. Nevertheless, almost 75% of patients with herniated disk did not require surgery, as the disease vanished completely after its remission. Surgical treatment for herniated disk should be considered only as a last resort and it should be performed only after unsuccessful attempts of conservative treatment, which could not alleviate or control pain.
The main method of conservative herniated disk treatment is a systemic anti-inflammatory therapy with anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition to the basic treatment it also includes physiotherapy.
However, there is an opinion that herniated disk can cure only on its own, because it can not be influenced by any external influence (except for surgical removal) and can dry out only over some period of time. For instance, the inflammatory process gradually subsides and hernia becomes dehydrated, stiff and it shrinks in size as a foreign body. So in most cases patient just need to wait when the inflammation ends and remission starts. It is assumed that pain can be caused by broken muscle or by other muscle disorders. Many treatment options include strengthening of the muscle if the cause for disk herniation was some kind of muscle problem. Manual techniques which are mostly aimed at stretching spastic muscles can relax muscles and bring relief.
Surgery usually removes herniated disk as a foreign body. Such surgery is called laminectomy. Such operation is not considered dangerous because it uses surgical microscope to remove herniated disk micro surgically. Such treatment method can reduce the possibility of surgical trauma, that`s why doctors usually choose microsurgical hernia removal. Main advantage of this method is the ability to remove the herniated disc of any density and from any location. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia with patient lying on his stomach and making approximately 3-4 cm skin incision. The risk of postoperative complications is minimal. Modern neurosurgery suggests early mobilization of the patient. Usually patient recovers the very next day. Average hospital stay lasts 4-7 days. Patient can begin his usual routine in 7-14 days and physical activities - in 2-4 weeks. It is generally recommended to stay at home for a month after the surgery. To keep posture straight and minimizing the possible complications, it is recommended to wear semi-rigid lumbar brace for 1-2 months.
Currently, microsurgical removal is widely used, although there is also an endoscopic option of herniation removal. Endoscopic removal of hernias is fairly new treatment and it is also considered to be safe. The use of an endoscope can significantly reduce surgical trauma, but it has a limited application conditions. For instance, if size of herniation is big and its location is distant, doctors prefer microsurgery to endoscopy. Patient can walk the day after endoscopic surgery and they are discharged from the hospital 3-4 days after surgery. This type of intervention provides faster recovery and the quicker resumption of normal lifestyle.
Another method of treatment for intervertebral hernia in its acute stage is spinal traction. This method has been introduced into medicine a long time ago. In fact it was used even in the Middle Age and it was quite popular back then. After new methods of treatment were invented, spinal traction was forgotten for some time. Recently, interest to this type of treatment has been renewed. Traction pressure is artificially created in the intervertebral space andportion of the damaged disk is able to return to its original place this way. It is necessary to find the right direction and choose the appropriate impact force to prevent spinal damage and thus, so that there will be no further complications, such as infection or muscle damage. If applied in the right way, this procedure gives phenomenal results. If it has been done in proper way, pain must subside. If pain has increased considerably, it means that something went wrong and then patient needs another course of spinal traction.
When acute phase of the disease is over patient needs to begin physiotherapy sessions to strengthen the weakened muscles of the back and to return spine to its normal mobility. More rapid and complete recovery can be achieved by several courses of massages. A masseuse must be warned beforehand about condition of patient`s back, so that massage is beneficial and not bring any harm.
Sometimes there may be decreased sensitivity in some places, such as legs. A person can have feeling of weakness after pain finally subsided. This is due to the fact that the damaged nerve root still has not regained its primary functions. Range of motion, as a rule, remains normal. A person who suffered from herniated disk condition should also consider such exercises as yoga and pilates, which can eliminate final symptoms of herniated disk and stretch muscles, so that a person will finally feel relaxation of his spine. Swimming sessions are also recommended for this purpose, as they make spine stronger. Usually 2-3 hours of swimming per week results in considerable improvements.Hide
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