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Intervertebral disc herniation is a common spinal problem. The intervertebral disc, serving as an elastic buffer between the upper and lower vertebrae of the spine, consists of the inner part (nucleus pulposus) and the outer layer (annulus fibrosus). Due to prolonged pressure and sudden gravitational forces (resulting from long-term bad posture, improper lifting of heavy objects, degeneration, or trauma), excessive pressure can cause part of the liquid nucleus pulposus to protrude through the gap in the annulus fibrosus. This protrusion passes through the ligaments, entering the spinal canal and compressing the nerve root, leading to damage or degeneration of the surrounding ligaments and resulting in disc herniation. This situation may cause nerve irritation, presenting as pain in the neck and waist, along with weakness and numbness in the hands and feet. Seeking appropriate treatment from a chiropractor is essential.
Causes Of Intervertebral Disc Herniation
Intervertebral disc herniation primarily occurs between the ages of 30 and 45. With ageing, the water content of the intervertebral disc decreases, reducing its flexibility and making it more prone to tearing from minor strains. Disc herniation isn't exclusive to older people; young individuals may experience it too due to the mentioned factors, necessitating the attention of a disc herniation chiropractor for lumbar disc herniation treatment.
This condition is often triggered by incorrect posture, accidental injuries, or the wear and tear associated with ageing intervertebral discs. Factors like excessive bending, improper weight-bearing postures, sudden increased pressure on the spine, and weak internal spinal muscles contribute to the inability to safeguard the spinal joints. This can lead to the rupture of the annulus fibrosus in the intervertebral disc, causing soft tissue to protrude from the rupture. In turn, this compresses nerve tissue, resulting in disc herniation and potentially causing spinal radiculitis, commonly known as "sciatica."
Herniated Disc Symptoms
Intermittent or persistent back pain
Back muscle spasms
Sciatica (severe pain radiating along the sciatic nerve, from the lower back through the pelvis and buttocks to the feet)
Weak leg muscles
Numbness in legs or feet
Decreased knee or ankle reflexes
Changes in bladder or bowel function
Pain worsens with movement
Significant worsening of leg pain with forward bending posture
Pelvic tilt when standing
Pain relief while lying down
Increased pain when coughing or sneezing
Three Ways to Self-Measure Lumbar Disc Herniation
Standing Forward Bend
This is done by bending the waist forward and leaning the body forward. If you suffer from a herniated intervertebral disc, bending your waist will increase the pressure on your lumbar disc, causing obvious pain. On the contrary, bending the waist backwards will reduce the pain.
Standing on One Leg Indicates Decreased Muscle Strength and Reduced Spinal Stability
Difficulty maintaining posture while standing on one leg may signal a potential case of lumbar disc herniation.
Leg Raise While Lying on Your Back
Lie on the bed with your legs straight and buttocks close to the bed, and slowly lift one foot. Most people can lift more than 70 degrees. If the lifting angle is less than 60-70 degrees, they will feel severe pain and numbness in the thigh, which means they may suffer from lumbar disc herniation.
Risk Factors For Disc Herniation
Disc herniation is a prevalent spinal issue affecting individuals of any age. The following factors contribute to the risk of disc herniation:
• Age: Intervertebral discs become more fragile and prone to injury with age, making disc herniations more common in individuals aged 30 to 50 years and above.
• Genetic factors: Some people have genetically predisposed intervertebral discs that are more fragile.
• Previous waist strain or issues: Pre-existing problems in the waist make intervertebral discs more susceptible to injury, increasing the likelihood of disc herniation.
• Excessive obesity: Being overweight increases the burden on intervertebral discs, making them more susceptible to damage.
• Lack of exercise: Long-term lack of exercise hinders blood flow to intervertebral discs, depriving them of nutrients and leading to premature degeneration.
• Sudden or strenuous movements: Abrupt or forceful movements may heighten the risk of disc damage.
• Smoking: Smoking reduces blood supply to the disc, elevating the risk of a herniated disc.
• Prolonged pressure on the lumbar spine: Extended periods of sitting, standing, forward or backward bending, frequent heavy lifting, exposure to back shocks, or night shifts can elevate the risk of developing a herniated disc.
• Poor posture: Incorrect posture significantly increases the chances of disc damage, substantially raising the risk of disc herniation.
Ultimately, maintaining good posture, adopting a healthy lifestyle and exercise routine, and avoiding prolonged pressure and excessive weight on the lumbar spine can reduce the risk of disc herniation.
Diagnostic Methods For Lumbar Disc Herniation
The doctor will first ask about the patient's symptoms, including whether there is low back pain, pain location, pain extent, numbness, weakness in the lower limbs, etc., and then conduct a series of physical examinations, such as palpation, neurological examination, etc., to determine whether the patient has signs of lumbar disc herniation. In addition, doctors will also recommend that patients undergo imaging examinations such as X-ray photography, CT scans, and MRI to more clearly observe the status of the lumbar intervertebral discs and confirm whether there is a herniated disc. Doctors can also provide patients with nerve electrophysiology tests to evaluate nerve conduction velocity and muscle response, which can help ensure whether there is nerve root compression. Based on the above examinations, the doctor can determine whether the patient has a lumbar disc herniation and then formulate a corresponding treatment plan.
Lumbar Disc Herniation Treatment Methods
Chiropractic treatment can help correct lumbar disc herniation problems. Chiropractors use appropriate spine correction treatments for each patient to relieve the pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. Lumbar disc herniation treatment mainly targets low back pain and can be divided into physical therapy, drug therapy, and surgical treatment. Chiropractors will use different treatment methods depending on the severity of the patient's disc herniation.
If the patient has mild to moderate disc herniation, without surgery, the chiropractor can use physical therapy to treat the inflamed tissue and relax the tight muscles to help the disc slowly retract into the spine and reduce pressure.
Using chiropractor's techniques, the displaced joints of the spine can be pushed to help stretch the injured tissues, stimulate cell reorganisation, and release the pressure within the joints.
The patient's legs are tied tightly, and the chiropractor fixes the traction-treated spine with one hand and gently applies force and flexion to each joint to reduce the pressure on individual joints. H3: Electrotherapy Reduce nerve oedema caused by nerve compression, relieves pain, and mainly plays an auxiliary treatment role for intervertebral disc herniation.
Physical heating promotes and improves blood circulation, relieves muscle spasms, eliminates inflammation and relieves pain symptoms.
Interference Current Treatment
Electric current is used to promote blood flow and relax tight muscles, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of disc herniation treatment.
Promote blood circulation in the injured area, accelerate the repair of damaged tissue, and relieve pain.
Drug-free pain relief methods are widely used in modern medicine to help relax muscles and reduce pain.
For patients with low back pain, doctors will prescribe pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing drugs to relieve pain. If the pain is related to nerves, doctors will also prescribe drugs to relieve neural pain according to the patient's condition to improve the problem.
Generally, severe disc herniation can only be improved through surgical treatment. If the patient's disc herniation problem is severe and presses on the nerve line, the doctor may recommend that the patient undergo disc decompression surgery. The surgery is performed in a minimally invasive manner, and patients generally recover quickly. However, they still need to avoid excessively high-pressure exercises and continue to perform appropriate stretching exercises to maintain the health of the lumbar spine.
If severe disc herniation or degeneration occurs, such as spinal displacement, the patient may need to undergo disc fusion or replacement surgery. If you have any questions about the causes, symptoms, or treatment of lumbar disc herniation, contact us to learn more.
Two Keys to Preventing Intervertebral Disc Herniation
To prevent intervertebral disc herniation, we need to fundamentally solve it. In daily life, we need to try to avoid stress on the lumbar spine, change bad postures, and develop good living habits. As long as you follow the following two keys, you can reduce the risk of suffering from disc herniation.
Keep Your Sitting Posture Correct To Reduce Sedentary Work
Office workers need to sit for long periods due to the nature of their work. Try to get up and move around every hour to reduce the pressure on your waist. In addition, as long as you maintain a correct sitting posture, do not cross your feet, keep your feet on the ground, your back is against the back of the chair, and your upper body is straight without hunching, you can avoid aggravating the risk of disc herniation.
Moving Heavy Objects With The Correct Posture
When moving heavy objects or picking up objects, avoid bending directly and making direct movements, which will increase the pressure on the waist. Squat instead of bending. If you must bend, avoid straining your spine to reduce the risk of injury and lumbar disc herniation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lumbar Disc Herniation
How Serious Is A Herniated Disc?
Clinically, the severity of intervertebral disc herniation is divided into four levels: Level 1 disc herniation usually does not press on the nerve and only causes pain in the waist when bending forward. Levels 2 and 3 may press on nerves, causing pain in the waist and lower limbs. Level 4 is the most serious, with severe pain in the feet or buttocks, numbness, and difficulty in defecation and defecation.
What Soothing Exercises Are Suitable For A Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc often causes back pain and discomfort. Stretches can be used to relieve the symptoms of a herniated disc. The patient can lie on the yoga mat, bend his feet, and gently lift his buttocks until his back and waist are lifted, hold it for 5 to 10 seconds, and then slowly lower it down, reducing the pressure on the spine and relieving back pain. The downward dog pose of yoga can stretch the muscles of the spine and back and reduce stress. In addition, jogging and swimming are very suitable for patients with disc herniation. However, if you have disc herniation symptoms, you should exercise under the guidance of a doctor. High-risk sports such as heavy training and high-intensity sports should be avoided.
Can I Bend Over With A Herniated Disc?
This depends on the location and severity of the herniated disc. In general, patients should avoid bending to reduce stress and pain. If the disc herniation is in the lower part of the spine (lumbar spine) and is not serious, the patient can bend slightly, but be careful not to bend or rotate the spine excessively to avoid aggravating symptoms. If the herniated disc is severe or located in the upper part of the spine (cervical spine), the patient should avoid bending or turning the head.
Is Surgery Required For Disc Herniation?
This depends on the severity of the symptoms and whether they affect daily life. Generally speaking, non-drug treatments can be used, including manual therapy to relax excessively tight myofascial, spinal traction therapy, electrotherapy, hot compress, etc., to relieve the pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. If you suspect you have symptoms of a herniated disc, seek medical advice as soon as possible.