The coach of F.C. Barcelona, ​​Pep Guardiola, is not the only one who has had to stop his daily activity and go to the hospital for a problem of herniated disc. It seems that more than 80 percent of the population will have back pain at some point in their lives. But that's not all, according to the head of Neurosurgery Service of the Hospital Niño Jesús and the Clinic La Luz in Madrid, Francisco Villarejo, in nine out of ten cases that pain will be caused by a herniated disc. A problem, that of the intervertebral disc, by which more than 20,000 interventions are carried out each year in Spain.

This pathology occurs because "over the years the column degenerates because the disc loses water and deteriorates and leaves its site," says this expert, noting that its appearance in young people is usually caused by trauma, an accident or the practice of sports, such as skiing, playing football or basketball.

Herniated disc, surgery or conservative treatment?

Unfortunately, in many cases conservative treatment (without resorting to surgery) is not effective, although it depends on many factors such as the age and sex of the patient, or the existence of other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, the type of hernia , the time of evolution or the type of work activity performed.

In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of hernias are reabsorbed, either because the fragment has not migrated and can return to its place, or because it has but been absorbed by the body's natural mechanisms. The problem, Dr. Villarejo adds, is in the other hernias that do not disappear on their own. For these cases there are multiple therapeutic options, although not in all cases the solution goes through the operating room. As a first measure, it is usually indicated rehabilitation and pharmacological treatment and, when the pain becomes acute and does not subside after following a rest regime, the option of surgery can be considered. Villarejo believes that "within the range of possibilities, microsurgery is the most effective technique in the treatment of herniated discs, since it can be applied in all types of hernias and has a result of 97 percent success."

In this sense, and in spite of the different current scientific current that raise doubts about whether the lumbar disc hernia should be operated, surgical treatment has shown very good results in these patients in whom the pain completely disappears. Not only that, but also, surgery allows recovering social and occupational activity prior to the illness in front of patients who choose not to have surgery.


Back Pain: Lumbar Disc Injury (November 2019).