Pains, twinges and lack of strength in the limbs. These are some of the symptoms caused by herniated disc, a disease that affects 2 to 3% of the population in Brazil, being more frequent in men over 35 years of age.
The problem occurs due to the rupture of the disc that is in the cartilaginous tissue between the bones of the spine. The disc is formed by a fibrous part and a more gelatinous part: with the rupture of the fibrous part, the gelatinous part leaks out and compresses the nerves, which can cause pain.
In most cases, the discomfort manifests itself in the lumbar or cervical region. It can also occur in the thoracic area, although it is less common because it is a part of the body with less movement and pressure, as explained by Luciano Miller, an orthopedist and spine specialist at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein.
what causes the disease
Among the causes of the problem are unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as obesity, smoking, poor posture and physical activity without rest. Genetic factors can also favor the appearance of the problem.
One-off actions, such as simply lifting excessive weight, also increase the risk of a herniated disc. The orthopedist Ana Paula Simões, president of SPAMDE (São Paulo Society of Sports Medicine), also highlights that aging also favors the emergence of the condition. “There is loss of flexibility and the disc degenerates.”
Pregnant women are also among the groups most affected by herniated discs – the weight of the belly puts an overload on the back.
most common symptoms
Although the pain is intense in many cases, the illness can be asymptomatic. “The hernia is serious, but it is not an unbearable pain for everyone. It is relative and individualized”, reinforces Simões, who is also a sports doctor.
In the case of hernia in the lumbar region, in addition to pain, there may be stinging, stabbing and numbness in the buttocks. When the problem occurs in the cervical spine, pain and tingling in the arm are possible symptoms.
With the persistence of pain, it is essential that the patient see a doctor to assess the severity of the condition. Excessive medications alleviate the problem immediately, but they can mask the symptoms and delay the person’s visit to a specialist, thus delaying the beginning of the most appropriate treatment.
After diagnosis, it is possible to follow two lines of treatment for herniated disc. In the first, the patient is submitted to conservative therapies, such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage and even ice in the region. “We also indicate stretching, since it is essential to do abdominal strengthening. In the case of physiotherapy, it works as an analgesic for the problem”, reinforces Miller.
If the hernia was caused by poor posture, it is essential to correct the ergonomics and other components that influence the worsening of the disease.
When these treatments don’t work, doctors recommend minimally invasive or even more complex surgeries. In general, the patient returns to work functions between seven and ten days after the intervention.
Even with these procedures, the problem may reappear after a few years. Therefore, it is essential to include healthy habits in everyday life such as physical exercise, correct posture, balanced diet, among others.
(Source: Einstein Agency)