Is there a difference between herniated disc and prolapsed disc?
The questions always arises, is a herniated disc different to a prolapsed disc? They are actually both the same and in New Zealand the term is interchangeable. Southern Cross, the largest private health insurer uses the term herniated disc and ACC, the government injury insurer uses the term prolapsed disc.
The disc itself is best described as a rubbery substance located between two spinal vertebra. After an injury this disc can push through the exterior casing and entrap the nerve.
What symptoms does this problem cause?
If the disc displacement is in the neck it will effect the arms and if in the spine the legs. There are cases where it affects the bladder as well. There may not be pain in the back or spine itself. Sometimes the pain can be extremely severe and other times the problem results in numbness and weakness in specific areas of the limbs.
Even the most severe herniations can resolve themselves over time without surgery or even any treatment, but this could take up to eighteen months or even three years.
How does one get a herniated disc?
As a general rule, disc herniations are more common in men aged 30-50 and involve some kind of heavy lifting to trigger the problem. Other times there may be no history of heavy lifting and can result from even simple exercise.
Are any sports more prone to herniated disc?
In fact any sport can cause a herniated disc. Football, rugby, golf and even cycling can cause a herniated disc. Steve Olsen, who specializes in Sports Medicine Acupuncture and practices in Onehunga, Auckland says ” I have seen a number of herniated disc cases due to cycling. Even road cycling that does does involve high impact like mountain biking, can cause a herniated disc. Its because of the bent over posture and extra strain that is put onto the lower back that causes the disc to prolapse”
Dermatones and acupuncture meridians
Anatomy has shown us that dermatones correlate to nerve pathways distribution which also correspond to where acupuncture meridian pathways travel. On these meridians are specific acupuncture points that then can treat herniation of the disc. They can treat the pain, numbness and weakness caused the prolapsed disc.
Many centuries ago, A Chinese physician called Hua Tuo discovered acupuncture points that run down teh spine that correspond today to the spinal nerve pathways and dermatones. This knowledge has led to a good example how modern science can be utilized with ancient knowledge to improve treatment outcomes. An MRI scan can show where the actual herniation is and then those corresponding Hua tuo points at that spinous process level.
Apart from needles, what else can be used to help disc prolapse?
The classical trained acupuncturist may also use cupping, moxibustion and electro-acupuncture as part of the treatment.
In New Zealand acupuncture is covered by ACC by practitioners who are members of Acupuncture New Zealand. There are over 700 members located through out New Zealand.