Herniated disc : what is it ? How to treat and prevent it ?

Posted on Tuesday, July 20

Herniated disc : what is it ? How to treat and prevent it ?

Dominic Baillargeon, M.Sc., Pht, FCAMPT, SPC, UASD, et Sylvain Girard, copywriter, Nxt Generation PHYSIO.

Do you know that during our lifetime, 90% of us experience back pain? The majority will recover and no longer have symptoms. However, being pain-free doesn’t prevent other problems from arising. This is the case with a herniated disc.

What is a herniated disc?

It is a wear and tear on an intervertebral disc. An intervertebral disc is a fibrous ring that surrounds a gelatinous nucleus. Located between each vertebra of the spine, its role is to absorb impacts. But if it is compressed too much, it can cause damage. The disc can shift out of alignment and press on the sciatic nerve. This is called a herniated disc.

Hernie discale lombaire

In general, a herniated disc occurs when there is a combination of twisting and bending of the back. This means leaning forward and to one side. This kind of situation is very common in daily life, such as when moving or shoveling snow in front of your home. The tension created by the sudden action can cause a herniation, resulting in intense pain in the lumbar region.

A problem that affects everyone

Many people experience herniated discs without even knowing it. It is often thought to happen to older or aging individuals. According to statistics, the age of the first herniated disc is between 25 and 35 years old. Indeed, this is a period when our bodies are very active and our tissues begin to degenerate.

For older individuals, we observe more degeneration of the fibrous ring: it becomes drier and drier. Wear and tear can also be seen in the entire compartment. In other words, it’s not necessarily the ring that is at fault, but the vertebrae, arthritis, or even the neural foramen (the area through which the nerve exits).

How to treat a herniated disc?

For prompt management, consulting a physiotherapist is a good start. They will be able to achieve good results by identifying the origin of the problem. Their goal will be to protect the lumbar segments (usually L4 and L5) and relieve stress on the problematic regions.

Often, we find fused vertebrae or a sacroiliac joint that doesn’t move. Stiffness, again in the pelvis and hips, is visible. These are often the cause of the problems. Many of us use our back because our hips are stiff or tight. For example, when sitting, the ideal hip flexion is 120 degrees, but some of us have flexion around 90 degrees. This means we are not sitting on our buttock bones. As a result, our back rounds and problems begin.

Hip flexor

Strengthen your deep muscles

So, how can you treat a herniated disc and prevent it from recurring? You need to strengthen your core by targeting the deep muscles. In physiotherapy, it is often observed that when the back pain is gone, these muscles are sometimes atrophied. This means they have lost volume from lack of use. Sometimes, the body replaces the empty space left by the muscle with fat. This is referred to as fatty infiltrators. By strengthening your musculature, not only will you provide relief to your vertebrae, but your body will also be able to protect them.

It is important to react promptly when you suffer from a herniated disc. The earlier it is detected, the better the physiotherapist will be able to correct it. Avoid surgery.

If you experience back pain, we encourage you to contact us directly and ask us your questions

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