October 25, 2020

Telework increases consultations for low back pain in the Archipelago


“Teleworking has caused people to become more sedentary and to abandon physical exercise and daily activity, a fact that is linked to the loss of muscle tone and being overweight. This causes the intervertebral discs to suffer greater wear, which can cause intense pain in the spine and, on some occasions, herniated discs ”, explains the specialist from the Gran Canaria center.

Dr. González stresses the need to control postural hygiene


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Based on the doctor’s words, the first symptom that usually appears is neck and lumbar pain. However, later on, more acute complaints may occur indicating the development of disc degeneration, bulging or herniation. It is estimated that 3% of back pain has its origin in this last cause.

Like a tire

“The intervertebral disc can be compared to a tire that is filled with a jelly. Over time, it wears out and can get punctured. In the disc, this puncture would mean a rupture of the fibrous ring, which could cause the release of this gelatin and the possible compression of the nerve roots ”, the expert details.

The truth is that the pandemic has changed the lifestyle of the general population. “We have left behind our customs and have acquired bad postures when it comes to working at home. Instead of being at a table set up in front of a computer, there are people who prefer to work from the sofa or from the bed, and even make use of inappropriate chairs. All of this contributes to disc degeneration, “says Dr. González Murillo.

For this reason, and in order to prevent the appearance of these complications, the doctor recommends adopting good postures, eating a healthy diet, taking short walks every 45 minutes and marking a daily routine of strengthening exercises and stretching. In the same way, for people who use the phone on a regular basis, the use of headphones with a microphone is recommended to avoid suffering neck pain from poor posture.

La Paloma Hospital is committed to endoscopic surgery to treat the ailment


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As regards the rest of the risk factors that contribute to disc degeneration, Dr. González Murillo highlights obesity, frequent weight lifting with poor postural hygiene, genetic predisposition and smoking. “Tobacco reduces the supply of oxygen to the body’s tissues. Thus, the intervertebral discs lose elasticity and early degeneration may appear ”, he indicates. Also, the disease is more common to develop between the fourth and fifth decade of life.

Treatment of a herniated disc includes several options, and most sufferers improve with rehabilitation. However, there is a small percentage that does not respond to therapy and requires an interventional approach, such as infiltrations or surgery.

“The least invasive surgery is endoscopic, which has been performed at Hospital La Paloma since last September. The process consists of making an incision in the skin of less than one centimeter. This allows us to remove the hernia in just one hour, and with fewer complications than other techniques ”, emphasizes the doctor.

However, there are other types of surgeries, such as lumbar arthrodesis –with screws and bars–, if the deterioration reflected by the patient is severe. “The advice of the specialist is always necessary to determine the best possible option,” says the expert.

Immediate treatment

ANDl Hospital La Paloma de la capital Gran Canaria offers immediate treatment for herniated discs through endoscopic surgery, a procedure developed by the Multidisciplinary Unit of Spine Surgery. However, in order to apply it, it is essential to evaluate the situation of each patient. It should be noted that, to diagnose the pathology, specialists perform a physical examination of the spine and a series of tests focused on measuring the sensitivity, muscle tone, coordination and reflexes of the affected person. Also, on occasions, it may be necessary to resort to X-rays and MRIs, the latter being the most conclusive test to demonstrate the existence of the pathology. Lumbar disc herniation –more frequent than cervical herniation– is characterized by a picture of low back pain that radiates towards the legs in the form of pain, paresthesia –alteration of sensation– and loss of strength. Some of them can lead to cauda equina syndrome –the result of compression of the nerves–, which constitutes a surgical emergency. YM

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