Posts Tagged ‘cervical spin’

postheadericon Spine Specialists Center: Full Endoscopic Surgery of the Lumbar and Cervical Spine

canal stenosis

Article by Scott Minteer

Dr. Verapan Kuansongtham, a neurosurgeon specialized in spine surgery, and his partner, Dr. Sompoch Paiboonsirijit, an orthopedic surgeon also specialized in spine surgery, have jointly organized 17th symposium for full-endoscopic surgery of the lumbar and cervical spine with their German partner, Dr. med. Sebastian Ruetten at Bumrungrad International during 22nd to 23rd January 2010. The symposium was a success. Not only doctors from Thailand, but also doctors from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea and India attended the symposium. The team has received several invitations from doctors in many countries such as Hong Kong and Malaysia to organize a similar symposium abroad.

Dr. Ruetten, Head of Department of Spine Surgery and Pain Therapy of St. Anna-Hospital Herne, Germany, is a world pioneer who invented a special technique for using an endoscope to operate patients with herniated discs. With his endoscopes produced by Richard Wolf in Germany, a surgical field is minimized to 8 mm. and due to a minimal injury to muscles around the operative area, patients can go home after 24 hours of surgery.

Dr. Verapan and Dr. Sompoch were directly trained by Dr. Ruetten. In 2008, they decided to become partners in training doctors around the world for the full-endoscopic spine and cervical surgery. They organize a symposium for doctors in Germany semi-annually in March and September. For Asia, Thailand will be the only center for training where Dr. Ruetten will fly in with his team from Germany and join Dr. Verapan in organizing a symposium semi-annually in January and June.

Last year, Dr. Verapan and Dr. Sompoch also joined Dr. Ruetten in organizing a special workshop in Chicago for American doctors.

Remarks:

Stenosis (lateral or central canal stenosis) is a lumbar spine disease in which the spinal canal is gradually narrowed due to the degeneration of the facet joints and ligament. Such degeneration causes bone spurs grow into the spinal canal, the facet joints enlarge and the ligaments become stiff. These all contribute to a smaller space for the nerve roots and spinal cords located in the spinal canal. In general, patients with stenosis may suffer from lower back and leg pain and some suffer great leg pain when they walk without any back pain.

http://www.bumrungrad.com/backandneckpain

About the Author

Marketing at Bumrungrad International hospital

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postheadericon Symptoms and Treatment of Spinal Stenosis

canal stenosis

Article by Glenn Betz

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts pressure on the spinal cord and/or on spinal nerves as they leave the spine. Compression of the nerve interferes with communication between the brain and the body, and results in sensory problems or loss of function to an area of the body. Compression can occur in the spinal canal, in the nerve root canals or the intervertebral foramen. It can be localized to one area or widespread throughout a section of the spine.

CausesSpinal stenosis can be congenital or acquired. Congenital conditions that cause spinal stenosis include scoliosis, a congenitally narrow spinal column or a bone defect called achondroplasia.

Most spinal stenosis is acquired, usually as a result of aging, and it usually appears in individuals over 50 years old. Women are more prone to it than men. Normal degenerative changes that occur with aging are most often to blame, especially if arthritis is also present. Spinal stenosis can also be caused by tumors or injury or as a result of another disease, such as Paget’s disease.

SymptomsThe symptoms of spinal stenosis depend on where the narrowing is. Most spinal stenosis affects the lumbar, or lower back, area. You experience pain radiating down your leg that is relieved if you sit or bend forward. In severe cases, you could lose bowel, bladder or sexual function and have difficulty walking.

The second most common area for spinal stenosis to occur is in your neck, or cervical spine. People with cervical stenosis may feel pain radiating down an arm, or aching, numbness or tingling in the arm or leg. They may have difficulty with fine motor skills, such as picking things up with their fingers or writing, problems walking or loss of bladder and bowel control.

Symptoms usually appear gradually and get worse over time.

TreatmentConservative methods of treatment are used as long as possible. They don’t cure the problem, but most people get relief of their symptoms for quite a while by doing prescribed exercises, including flexion. Most people have good results with physical therapy. Chiropractic, massage and acupuncture often help, too.

Most doctors prescribe muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory medications to relieve the symptoms of spinal stenosis. If those don’t work, epidural cortisone treatments and nerve blocks may be helpful.

Eventually, many people need surgery to correct spinal stenosis. Outpatient arthroscopic surgery may be sufficient to open up the intervertebral foramen or to relieve pressure from surrounding structures.

Sometimes, however, the entire spinal cord must be decompressed, requiring open surgery. A decompression laminectomy may be necessary to remove enough bone and tissue to relieve the pressure on the spinal column.

Spinal stenosis can be very debilitating. Conservative treatment relieves the symptoms and allows you to function normally for quite a long time. The disease is progressive, however, and eventually surgery is necessary to correct the narrowing and relieve pressure on the nerve.

About the Author

Glenn Betz is a consultant doing work for Laser Spine Surgery http://www.laserspineinstitute.com andHouston Web Site Design http://www.novatexsolutions.com

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postheadericon Thoracic Spinal Stenosis Symptoms and Treatments

canal stenosis

Article by David Betz

Thoracic spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal cord or spinal nerves are compressed by narrowing of the spinal canal or the openings between vertebrae. The thoracic spine has some unique characteristics that make thoracic spinal stenosis a little different than stenosis in other areas. Thoracic spinal stenosis rarely occurs in isolation, but is almost always accompanied by stenosis in the lumbar area, and sometimes also the cervical spine.

There are 12 thoracic vertebra and they articulate with the 12 sets of ribs that protect our major organs. The thoracic spine curves outward, and the curve is gentler than the cervical or lumbar curves. Because of the ribs, the thoracic spine is more fixed than the cervical or lumbar areas, too. Most of the motion of the thoracic spine is rotation, with little flexion or extension.

The spinal canal is naturally narrower in the thoracic area, even though the size of the spinal cord remains the same. That means there is less extra space, so it takes less obstruction to cause problems.

SymptomsLike cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis, thoracic spinal stenosis can be congenital or acquired. There is a great deal of difference, however, in how it is manifested.

Most thoracic spinal stenosis is due to degenerative changes–arthritis in the joints, bone spurs, disc degeneration and other changes due to aging. As the degeneration progresses, you may experience pain in your back and legs, either aching in your legs when you walk that gets better when you rest, or pain that radiates down your back or legs. You may develop problems with walking or loss of bowel or bladder function.

Because the thoracic spinal canal is already naturally narrow, people with congenital spinal stenosis cannot tolerate any extra pressure on the spinal cord. They tend to develop symptoms of cord compression (loss of sensation or movement below the injury) rapidly after minor injury.

TreatmentDegenerative thoracic spinal stenosis may get better with conservative treatment, which includes anti-inflammatory medications, pain management and physical therapy. Steroid injections or nerve blocks may help manage the pain.

If the pain is uncontrolled or if there are signs of cord compression, however, surgery is necessary to relieve pressure on the cord or spinal nerves. Traditional surgical options are laminectomy or corpectomy to provide more room in the spinal canal and spinal fusion to stabilize the spine and prevent damage to the cord.

Minimally invasive surgery may be an option for some cases of thoracic stenosis. Surgery is done through an endoscope using a microscope to directly visualize the spine. Microsurgical techniques allow the surgeon to perform precise, delicate maneuvers to remove the nerve pressure and repair structures.

About the Author

David Betz is a consultant doing work for Laser Spine Surgery http://www.laserspineinstitute.com andHouston Web Site Design http://www.novatexsolutions.com

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postheadericon What Is Spinal Stenosis?

canal stenosis

Article by David Betz

Spinal stenosis is narrowing of an opening that the spinal cord or a spinal nerve passes through.

The spinal cord extends from the brain to the lower back and carries messages between the body and the brain in a top-down manner. It is encased in the spinal canal, an opening in the vertebral column that is protected by the bony parts of the vertebrae. The spinal canal is occupied by the spinal cord and the posterior longitudinal ligament, which sits between the cord and the back of the vertebra. Some people have congenitally narrow spinal canals and some people develop spinal stenosis later in life, usually due to ossification of the ligament.

The spinal nerves branch off of the spinal cord and pass through the neural foramen between the vertebrae. There’s a pair of spinal nerves between each pair of vertebrae, and they innervate the body parallel to the vertebrae. Spinal stenosis occurs when the neural foramen is narrowed or when vertebral structures encroach on the intervertebral space.

CausesA lot of things can cause spinal stenosis. Some of them are:· Congenital spinal stenosis–you are born with it· Scoliosis or other progressive inherited conditions that narrow the spinal openings· Injury that results in a slipped disc, vertebral fractures or other trauma to the vertebral column· Medical conditions, such as Paget’s disease, where abnormal bone metabolism causes deformity of the vertebrae· Toxins, particularly excessive exposure to fluoride in insecticides, which causes abnormal bone growth· Degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, that are part of the aging process

SymptomsSymptoms of spinal stenosis are due to nerve compression, and depend on where the compression is located.

Cervical spinal stenosis affects the nerves to the neck and arms, so the symptoms are pain and other sensory abnormalities in the neck, shoulders and arms, weakness of the shoulders or arms and difficulty grasping things. Symptoms are usually on one side or the other. If the spinal cord is involved, you can also have gait problems and loss of coordination.

Lumbar spinal stenosis involves the nerves in the lower back. Leg pain or numbness are the most common symptoms; weakness in one or both legs also occurs. With lumbar stenosis, symptoms are more likely to be on one side or the other.

TreatmentSpinal stenosis is usually treated with anti-inflammatories and pain medication as long as possible. If the pain is intractable or if there are functional problems, like weakness, the narrowed openings are opened up surgically. Sometimes the surgery can be done through an endoscope instead of with traditional surgical methods.

About the Author

David Betz is a consultant doing work for Laser Spine Surgery http://www.laserspineinstitute.com andHouston Web Site Design http://www.novatexsolutions.com

postheadericon What Causes Spinal Stenosis?

canal stenosis

Article by David Betz

Spinal stenosis is narrowing of any of the vertebral openings that nerves go through. The narrowing compresses the nerve, and symptoms appear due to impaired nerve function. The spine is composed of approximately 33 interlocking bones, called vertebrae. It has two major functions: structural and functional. Structurally, the spine allows us to stand upright, provides a place for muscles, tendons and other bones to attach to, and gives us the flexibility to turn, bend and twist. Functionally, the spine provides protection for the spinal cord and distribution of spinal nerves.

The spinal cord carries all the messages between our brains and our bodies. Some of the fibers carry motor (movement) instructions to the body, and some carry sensation information to the brain. A pair of spinal nerves branch off of the cord and exit the spine between each pair of vertebrae, carrying messages to and from the body in that area. Nerves from the cervical spine go to the face, neck and diaphragm. Thoracic nerves go to the arms and chest. Lumbar nerves go to the hips, legs, rectum, urethra and sexual organs.

Each vertebra has a total of five openings that nerves pass through: the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord, two neural foramina, or openings in the bone for the nerve root, and two intervertebral spaces. Spinal stenosis occurs when any of these openings is narrowed enough to compress a nerve.

Some people are born with spinal stenosis, or a congenital narrowing of the spinal canal or other openings. Spinal stenosis can be secondary to other congenital abnormalities, such as scoliosis or achondroplasia.

Most of the time, people acquire spinal stenosis as they age; it’s rare in people younger than 50. Calcium deposits develop in the ligaments between vertebrae, we grow bone spurs, the vertebra don’t fit together like they once did and they slip out of alignment–these are normal changes that occur as we get older, but they can cause spinal stenosis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in the discs and facet joints contribute to spinal stenosis, too.

There are a few conditions that cause spinal stenosis that are neither congenital nor the result of aging. Tumors can invade any of the spinal spaces and compress nerves. Paget’s disease is a bone disorder that causes the vertebrae to thicken, obstructing the openings. Fluorosis, or excessive exposure to fluoride, causes calcification of the ligaments around the spinal openings. The posterior longitudinal ligament, which runs down the back behind the spinal cord, may turn to bone and put pressure on nerves.

Although there are several causes of spinal stenosis, the mechanism is always the same: a narrowed opening compresses a nerve, and that causes sensory and functional symptoms.

About the Author

David Betz is a consultant doing work for Laser Spine Surgery http://www.laserspineinstitute.com andHouston Web Site Design http://www.novatexsolutions.com

postheadericon herniated disc treatment

spinal stenosis

Article by Marchse

Medical science is always on the lookout for new and improved methods of treatment to provide complete relief to patients suffering from pain or a particular condition. One prominent new back and neck pain treatment option is endoscopic laser spine surgery – a convenient, low-cost alternative to traditional open spine surgery.Endoscopic laser spine surgery is an effective treatment for a wide variety of spine conditions such as sciatica back pain and spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis treatment often entails surgery to remove the bone spur or portion of the disc that is causing pain by compressing the nerve in the vertebral forum/spinal canal. Spinal Fusion Surgery is a drastic back surgery procedure in which two or more vertebrae are joined together (fused), so that no individual movement occurs in the operated vertebral levels. The idea of the surgery is to permanently connect the vertebrae to each other. This creates a solid piece of bone, rather than a joint that allows movement.To best understand your surgery, it is important to know about your spine. The spinal column surrounds and protects your spinal cord. Your spinal column is made up of 24 vertebrae (bones), plus the sacrum and the tailbone (coccyx). Each vertebra is separated by shock-absorbing discs. These discs give your spine flexibility to move and bend. Nerves branch out from your spinal cord and pass through openings in these vertebrae to other parts of your body. What is Cervical Spine Surgery?The goal of cervical spine surgery is to relieve pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, restore nerve function and stop or prevent abnormal motion in the spine. Your surgeon does this by removing a disc or a bone and fusing the vertebrae together with a bone graft either in front of or behind the spine. The bone graft may be one of two types: an autograft (bone taken from your body) or an allograft (bone from a bone bank). Sometimes metal plates, screws or wires are also used to further stabilize the spine. These techniques are called instrumentation. When the vertebrae have been surgically stabilized, abnormal motion is stopped and function is restored to the spinal nerves.For decades, spine surgeons have used large incisions to treat spinal conditions. Large and invasive incisions necessitate patients be hospitalized and includes extensive rehabilitation and a lengthy and painful recuperation. Since the early 1970s, the arthroscope has been utilized to operate on knees and shoulders.Patient BenefitsThis type of minimally invasive surgery is performed on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic. Since general anesthesia is not used, surgical risks are less. Endoscopic surgery and use of endoscopic tubes minimizes muscle and other soft tissue damage. Patient benefits include less bleeding during surgery, reduced postoperative discomfort, fewer and smaller incisions, minimal scar tissue formation, and a speedier recovery. In addition, patients can avoid hospitalization and spinal fusion.Endoscopic Spine Procedures: A foraminotomy is a medical procedure that relieves the pressure of compressed nerves in the intervertebral foramen. The intervertebral foramen is the natural opening or the hollow passage in the vertebra that allows for nerve roots to exit from the spinal cord or the spinal canal to various targeted areas of our body. Causes of nerve root compression may be bone, disc or scar tissue in the foramen causing a pinched nerve. This procedure is done by enlarging the hollow passage at the exit point of the nerve roots.

herniated disc treatment

About the Author

for further information please contact http://www.marknelsonmd.com

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postheadericon Spinal Stenosis: Nerve Compression in the Spine

canal stenosis

Article by David Betz

Spinal stenosis is a condition that involves both the bony structures and the nerves of the spine.

The bony structures of the spine are the vertebrae. They provide structure for our bodies and protect the spinal cord, which carries messages between the brain and body. There are about 33 interlocking vertebrae and they are articulated in a way that provides support for the chest and abdomen while allowing us the flexibility to twist and bend. The spine has two forward curves–cervical and lumbar–and two backward curves–thoracic and sacral, which help it absorb mechanical stress.

The spinal cord travels through the spinal canal from the head to the lower back. The posterior longitudinal ligament lines the canal between the spinal cord and the back of the vertebrae, providing additional support and protection for the spinal cord. All messages between the brain and body are carried by the spinal cord in a top-down fashion. If the spinal cord is severed, you lose all sensation and function below the injury.

A pair of spinal nerves leaves the spine between each pair of vertebrae. They split off of the spinal cord and innervate the structures parallel to that vertebra. The nerves pass out of the spinal canal through the neural canal and exit the spine through the space between vertebrae.

Whenever the spinal canal or one of the neural canals is narrowed or obstructed, you have spinal stenosis. The symptoms of spinal stenosis depend on which nerve or nerves are being affected.

Cervical spinal stenosis occurs in the neck and can involve either the cord or spinal nerves. If spinal nerves are involved, you will have pain, numbness, tingling and/or weakness of the neck, shoulders and/or arms. If the cord is involved, you may also have symptoms affecting your legs, usually uncoordinated movement and difficulty walking.

Thoracic stenosis is rare because there is less curvature in the thoracic spine, and therefore less stress on the joints between vertebrae. The spinal canal is normally narrower in the thoracic spine, however, so it takes less obstruction to cause symptoms.

Lumbar stenosis is common, and involves the lower back. Lumbar stenosis causes pain in the lower back and leg and may also cause weakness in one or both legs.

Spinal stenosis can be caused by narrowing of the spinal canal, narrowing or obstruction of the neural canal or narrowing or obstruction of the space between vertebrae. Stenosis can be congenital or it can be caused by injury, tumor, medical conditions or degenerative changes due to aging.

In the early stages, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and other medical measures take care of the symptoms. Ultimately, the only way to correct spinal stenosis is with surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves.

About the Author

David Betz is a consultant doing work for Laser Spine Surgery http://www.laserspineinstitute.com andHouston Web Site Design http://www.novatexsolutions.com

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postheadericon How Spine Diseases Can Be Debilitating

Article by carl formby

There are many types of spine diseases and people suffering from any of them can be really laid down low. The most common of them is associated with lumbar pain which mainly affects the lower back and is caused by muscle strain or vascular problems or arthritis or a ruptured intervertebral disc. Spine surgery is usually the last resort after all other methods have become ineffective in alleviating the pain. Spine disease treatments can be non-surgical as well as surgical though that is in very severe cases.

Spinal stenosis is a type of spine disease and can take two forms; lumbar spinal stenosis and cervical stenosis. In the former, the lower back gives trouble since the nerve roots over there get compressed or choked and this radiates pain. Sciatic pain where numbness, tingling or pain shoots from the low back into the buttocks or legs especially with activity is also a result of this problem. In the majority of cases, the pain is bad and increases with walking and is reduced with sitting. This is known as claudication which maybe caused by poor circulation in legs. Treatment is only sought if the pain gets debilitating and hampers normal activities severely. Cervical stenosis is a form of spinal stenosis in the neck region and can become far more dangerous because it can compress the spinal cord itself and lead to weakness of the body and in extreme cases, to paralysis.

When the normal curve of the neck begins to straighten, the condition is called cervical kyphosis. This disease can progress to the level where the curve of the neck starts going in the opposite direction from its normal position. The causes of this disease may be ascribed to the wear and tear of degenerative discs wherein the vertebra begins to weaken. Traumatic injuries such as fractures or infections and diseases like osteoporosis as well as congenital conditions also cause this problem. Cervical lordosis is the inward curvature of the neck area in an abnormal way. While the cervical spine should have a typical lordotic curve, some people have an increased curvature whose existence may not be discovered for years. There are hardly any symptoms linked with this disease and only a small number of people may experience any pain.

A bulging disk is also related to spine diseases and occurs when a disc protrudes through the spine. A disc cushions the vertebrae of the spine and when it shifts out of its normal position it is called a bulging disc. The bulging disc normally affects the lower back but sometimes it may happen in the neck causing pain in the shoulders or arms.

Spine diseases can be treated if they are diagnosed in time.

About the Author

carl formby owns and operates http://www.cervicallordosispain.com Degenerative Lumbar Pain Surgery and Cervical Bulging Disk

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postheadericon Spinal Decompression Provides Relief from Stenosis without Surgery

Article by bsullivan

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spine canal narrows and compresses the nerves of the spinal cord. Dr. David Nygaard treats patients for an array of pain and spinal issues at Atlas Family Chiropractic in Asheville, NC. He says that, “Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal openings in one or more of three locations, in the center of the spinal canal, where the nerves branch from the spinal cord or in the space between the vertebrae. This causes pressure on the spinal nerves, leading to irritation, inflammation and pain.”

Nygaard adds that “Spinal stenosis affects the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine and sometimes several places at the same time.”

Spinal Stenosis Symptoms

Like many spinal conditions that impair proper nerve function, spinal stenosis can develop without symptoms. Symptoms can develop gradually and worsen over time. Symptoms include: pain in the back and/or neck, numbness, tingling or radiating pain in the extremities and muscle weakness in the extremities.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is often a common occurrence of spinal degeneration that occurs as people age. Degeneration is associated with disc bulging, spinal joint enlargement, the development of bone spurs and the thickening or buckling of ligaments. Stenosis can also be caused by spinal disc herniation, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries or trauma, ligament thickening or the presence of a tumor.

In the cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) region it can be a congenital condition.Disc herniation is the displacement of the center of a vertebral disc through a crack in the outer layer. Disc herniation can put pressure on the nerves causing irritation, inflammation and pain.

Individuals born with a narrow spinal canal or who experience trauma to their spine may develop spinal stenosis earlier than those who develop it due to degeneration due to aging. People who are genetically predisposed to hypertrophic osteoarthritis and/or have an abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis) may also develop spinal stenosis.

Compression Causes Problems

Dr. Nygaard explains that the pinching or compression of spinal nerves and blood vessels leads to health issues, including pain. “Stenosis in the lower back can lead to a condition called cauda equina syndrome that results from compression within the spinal canal.

Spinal compression causes leg pain or numbness, back pain, abnormal sensation in the extremities including the legs, thigh, buttocks and feet and loss of bladder or bowel control and problems having sex.

Non-Surgical Options

If this degenerative disease progress far enough, chiropractic care is no longer a viable treatment. In the past, this left surgery as the remaining option. Dr. Nygaard and others are beginning to treat spinal compression with spinal decompression therapy.

Spinal decompression is a non-surgical and drug-free alternative for disc-related syndromes of the lumbar or cervical spine. Many patients have found relief from pain associated with herniated discs, bulging discs, facet syndrome, degenerative joint disease, pinched nerves, and other spinal afflictions with the application of decompression therapy. Spinal Decompression uses computer-aided technology to apply gentle, non-surgical decompression to the spine. This increases circulation into the spinal discs and joints helping to relieve the symptoms that cause pain.

Spinal decompression helps relieve symptoms of spinal stenosis. “As spinal discs are decompressed, it can relieve bulges that irritate nerves. Nerve irritation and inflammation can lead to a myriad of health problems, many of which are healed by the body once the compressive forces are removed from the nerve,” says Nygaard. Spinal decompression therapy can relieve nerve pressure associated with lower back pain and diseases like spinal stenosis and sciatica. It enlarges diminished disc space and allows for re-hydration and the influx of vital nutrients. When the spine is properly aligned the surrounding nerves and blood vessels are not pinched the nervous system and body can begin to heal and function properly, often times relieving the associated pain. Bold words changed

For more information Visit:http://atlasfamilychiropractic.net

About the Author

Chris WingateFreelance journalist, outdoorsman and adrenalin junkie, Chris can be found exploring the forests of the South East where he is a white water raft guide on the French Broad River. When not wet or covered in mud Chris produces shows for his local public access TV station URTV and plays bass in an alt-country band “Hobos and Lace”. For more information Visit:http://atlasfamilychiropractic.net

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postheadericon Herniated Disc Back Pain

Article by Sensei Adam Rostocki

Herniated disc back pain is a dreaded occurrence for many dorsopathy sufferers. The actual words “herniated disc” are enough to cause anxiety and worry over possible agony, surgery and disability. In reality, the spinal disc is a much maligned structure, rarely responsible for the plethora of painful conditions typically blamed on it. This is due to the extremely common nature of disc bulges and ruptures, as well as the universality of disc degeneration.

Herniated discs can occur anywhere in the spine, but are usually found at either end. The cervical spine, also known as the neck, is an area which must bend and flex constantly, as well as hold up the significant weight of the head. The discs in the neck wear out fast from all this movement and degenerative disc disease is often diagnosed in one or more vertebral levels by the age of 30 and sometimes much younger. The lumbar spine, also known as the lower back, is the most common location for degenerative disc disease to occur and these age and activity related changes are usually in effect by the age of 20, especially at L4/L5 and L5/S1. Herniated discs are also common in both of these spinal regions and can occur from injury, normal degeneration or idiopathic reasons.

Herniated discs are thought to create pain in several possible ways. The most common is called foraminal stenosis, also known as a pinched nerve. This condition exists when a bulging or ruptured disc puts pressure on one of the spinal nerve roots which exit the spinal column at every vertebral level. While this situation can occur, it is very rare, since the disc would have to completely close off the neuroforaminal opening under extreme pressure in order to compress the nerve sufficiently. Furthermore, even when this rare event does happen, continued compression of the nerve root will result in absolute lack of sensation. This is objective numbness, not the subjective numbness often experienced by many patients. Additionally, there will be no pain or tingling, although real muscular weakness in the area served by the pinched nerve is likely.

The next possible source of herniated disc back pain is due to spinal stenosis. This is diagnosed when the disc applies pressure to the actual spinal cord, narrowing the spinal canal through which the cord passes. Many cases of spinal stenosis are completely asymptomatic, while occasionally, this condition can be a real problem. The most symptomatic instances of spinal stenosis exist when bone spurs (osteophytes) are the source of the narrowed canal and most disc bulges simply do not create any noticeable effect on the cord.

The third way that herniated disc back pain may be explained is from chemical radiculitis. This is when the proteins from the interior of the disc bleed out of the damaged disc structure and irritate surrounding nerve tissue. This is a controversial diagnosis and is not openly accepted in many medical sectors. It seems that if this condition does indeed exist, it only affects some people with particularly sensitive nerve tissue, since many people suffer severe ruptures and experience no pain at all.

The last possible explanation for disc related back pain is the unusual diagnosis of discogenic pain. In this condition, the damaged disc is said to be the actual source of discomfort, which makes little sense, since intervertebral discs do not have nerves or even a dedicated blood supply. Instead, they are nourished through the cartilaginous end plates which attach the discs to the surrounding upper and lower vertebral bones. Some doctors believe it is the tiny nerves in these endplates which are painful, but that seems highly unlikely, since most patients report pain which is far too great and widespread to be sourced from such tiny and anatomically limited neurological tissues.

In the end, most patients do not enjoy relief from a wide range of conservative treatments or even surgeries directed at herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. This has nothing at all to do with the talent of the doctor or the method of treatment. Instead, therapy fails since the diagnosis is completely wrong. Statistics show that herniated discs are often completely asymptomatic and even those which do cause trouble usually resolve with or without treatment in 6 to 8 weeks. Disc conditions are almost never the real reason for chronic back pain. Once you understand this simple fact, it is easy to see why the condition has such a treatment-resistant reputation… It is not that the damage to the spine is so great; it is instead that the pain is being blamed on a complete innocent and coincidental spinal scapegoat.

About the Author

Sensei Adam Rostocki suffered with crippling disc diagnosed back pain for 18 years. Sensei Rostocki is the author of popular self help book, “Cure Back Pain Forever” (ISBN 1-59971-997-5). His Cure Back Pain Network Herniated Disc website provides honest and understandable information about a wide range of problematic disc concerns, as well as effective treatments.

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