Dr. Thomas Hartmann on Treating Disc Herniation

Two years ago while playing underwater hockey I felt a bit of pain after arching my lower back too far. Little did I know that this was probably the start of my disc herniation.

A year ago it felt like I put too much pressure and shock on my lower back while playing ball. After that instance, I started feeling a sharp pain in the lower back more and more frequently, most usually when sitting down and driving.

So after several visits to doctors, x-ray and MRI, it appears that the cause was a Herniated Nucleus Pulposus (HNP) or bulging disc. It is a precursor to a “slipped disc“.  Now I didn’t want to get to that point so this prompted me to look at the condition, understand the causes and rehabilitate.

One day while channel surfing, I chanced upon In Good Shape program on DWTV. They interviewed Dr. Thomas Hartmann who is very knowledgeable about herniated discs.

Dr. Thomas Hartmann is a sports physician from Berlin with over 20 years of experience and 10,000 patients and is an expert on back pain.

According to Dr. Hartmann, only 1 out of 100 patients needed surgery after being diagnosed of having disc herniation. Surgery is only called for when there is debilitating pain or paralysis of the leg or if the bladder is affected. He added that bulging discs can disappear over time.

So what causes disc herniation?

Dr. Hartmann believes there are 3 main causes:

  1. Always sitting in a constrained position for a long time.
  2. Not enough movement.
  3. Stress.
Stress causes back pain when the muscles react to stress by becoming tight. This tightening of the muscles in turn exerts pressure on the spine and discs, which could lead to a herniated disc.
Physiotherapy plays a big role in rehabilitating the herniated disc by strengthening the weak muscles and stretching the muscles which are too tight. The muscles around the affected region should be balanced.
He gives us some tips on how to find the possible causes of stress and back pain. One tip is to imagine that your back would write a letter to you, how would this letter read?
His best advice? Exercise and listen to your body.
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