This topic has been raised because lately we got a lot of e-mails with questions connected with the spinal hernias. What are these hernias and how do they arise? We will try to explain it in this article.
The construction intervertebral disc
Before we start to define the term of the hernia, we will describe the construction the intervertebral disc, popularly known as a disc.
Each intervertebral disc is made of annuclus fibrosus (fibrous ring). The whole ring is made of a fibrous tissue, the part of which are collagen fibers. This ring is very flexible and id makes a kind of cover for nucleus pulposus which is located inside. Nucleus pulposus is a gel-like substance, which in 70% is made of water.
The intervertebral discs' function is amortization and enabling the movement of the spine.
What are the causes of hernia?
Physical work which we perform, loads our spine has to handle with and the position, in which we spend the most of our time – these factors contribute to the fact that we are much younger when degeneration changes in the intervertebral disc appear. However, in most of the cases, the forces which have an impact on our spine are much bigger than intervertebral disc's endurance and amortization. The hernia itself is a kind of knob of the fibrous ring with the shift of the nucleus pulposus. Sometimes the structure of the nucleus pulposus is even broken. Such a knob leads to an irritation of the nerve root, which results in pain which radiates to upper or lower limbs, depending on the level where the hernia is located.
In most cases there are back hernias (in the moment when the disc shifts backwards because of the compression made by front joints) but equally dangerous are front hernias with lateral components but this topic will be raised in another article.
Often the patients which do not perform any hard physical work also have hernias. The truth is that even the small load lead to hernias when faulty posture bad habits connected with making movements result in overloading forces which have an impact on the structure of intervertebral disc.
Lifting the objects in the case of the spinal hernia
One of the causes of the spinal hernia is lifting the objects which are located on the floor in an inappropriate way. Patients often say that they had been in a good physical condition until I have bent in order to lift a heavy object and I was not able to stand up. Why is this happening? Most of us lift the objects which are on the floor or relocate them in an inappropriate way. It is often caused by the lack of time, by bad movement habits or lack of knowledge how we should perform such activities.
We have noticed that most people lift loads in the following way. We perform a full flexion of the spine, while our lower limbs are straight and then we catch the object and we lift it upwards or relocate it. This way is inappropriate because: performing a full flexion while our lower limbs are straight causes an overload in lumbar spine. Compression (pressure) against the front surface of the discs' stems causes the shift of the nucleus pulposus backwards. This is the cause of the spinal pain,
evoked by squeeze against nerve roots. Performing this movement in a sharp, sudden way with additional load lead to hernias, which result in difficulties in “straightening up”.
Schemes showing lifting the objects
Now we are going to show a correct scheme of lifting. It is destined to all people, including ones with diagnosed hernia. While catching an object one should bend lower limbs in hip joint to the right angle (such adjustment relieves an overload of the lumbar spine), then we try to avoid flection in lumbar spine. While lifting heavy objects our eyes should be aimed forwards in order not to lift the head because such adjustment causes compression in C1-C2 area and tension in erector spinae what could result in pain in the whole area of the spine.
Obeying the rules will protect us from overloading in spine area, especially in lumbar spine. This is why this scheme should be performed by everyone and in the case of patients with hernia one should remember that the lifted objects cannot be to heavy.