Five frequent back questions from the doctor: What patients want to know about complaints in the cross
Back pain occurs in all age groups and often leads to a loss of quality of life for those affected. In Germany alone, around 11 million people suffer from a painful backbone. "Nevertheless, there is still a lot of information required," Dr. Reinhard Schneiderhan, orthopedic surgeon from Munich and President of the German Spine League, and reveals the most common patient questions from his everyday clinical work.
1. How can I prevent back pain?
Lack of exercise often causes damage to the spine. An active daily schedule therefore prevents complaints. Even simple activities - such as climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator or cycling more often than driving a car - strengthen the muscles and get the spinal discs moving. People who sit a lot for work-related reasons recommend experts to adjust the desk and chair so that both feet are hip-width on the floor, while forearms and hands rest comfortably on the table surface. At night, back-friendly mattresses provide relief for the spine. Specimens with different hardness zones are ideal, the soft shoulder and hip area of which enables a relaxed sleeping posture.
2. What can I do about acute complaints?
Hot applications such as mud packs or hot water bottles are already helpful for mild back pain. As an effective measure, Dr. Schneiderhan a warm, moist pack: “Simply wrap a terry towel soaked in hot water around a hot water bottle and place it on the affected back. Moist heat penetrates the muscle corset much faster and deeper than dry heat. ”This relaxes muscle and nerve fibers and the increased blood flow relieves the first symptoms. If the pain persists for more than three days and if there are side effects such as muscle weakness or numbness, those affected should immediately consult a doctor.
3. Does a herniated disc always have to be operated on?
No, there are now many minimally invasive interventions to choose from - such as treatment with a microlaser. “With this procedure, we only prick a thin needle through the skin under local anesthesia. We then pass a glass fiber through it, which directs a laser beam into the affected intervertebral disc, ”explains Dr. Schneiderhan. This treatment shrinks leaked tissue, seals small cracks and switches off pain fibers, which prevents pain signals from being transmitted to the brain.
4. Can I go back to all activities after a spinal disc treatment?
Doctors usually allow the patient to do light physical activities a few days after a minimally invasive procedure. "Patients often have the opportunity to pursue sporting activities such as swimming, cycling or jogging just three to four weeks after the treatment," adds Dr. Reinhard Schneiderhan. A full load is usually given three months after the procedure.
5. What helps if the spinal canal is narrowed?
With a narrowing of the spinal canal, also called spinal stenosis, wear processes lead to vertebrae or intervertebral discs constricting nerves. Those affected often feel this as complaints in the back after short walks, which significantly worsens their quality of life. In mild cases, heat treatments, physiotherapy or injections already help. If these measures do not lead to relief and if there are predominantly soft-tissue pressures, such as bulging of the intervertebral discs or scar tissue after an operation, doctors resort to the spinal catheter.
They inject an individually tailored medication mixture directly into the affected area. This leads to a shrinking of the disruptive tissue and thus to relief of the affected nerve root. An operational expansion operation or a stabilizing intervention is only carried out in the last instance. But even with such neurosurgical operations, patients return to their everyday lives after just a few days thanks to modern and gentle procedures.