What is a vertebral blockage?

And how can it be released?

In today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to overstress our bodies – whether through work, sport or everyday movements, for example. Frequent consequences of this are back pain, which can have various causes. Vertebral blockage is one of them.

This is a condition that often causes severe discomfort and can significantly restrict mobility. Although the term “vertebral blockage” is widely used, for many people it remains unclear what exactly is behind it. In the following, we will enlighten you and show you how we can treat this condition.

Wirbelblockade lösen | Release vertebral blockage
What are vertebrae?

Vertebrae are the bony building blocks of the spinal column, which together form a flexible and stable axis in the human body. Each vertebra consists of several components:

Vertebral body
The vertebral body is the front part of a vertebra and forms the largest part of the mass. It is round in shape and bears the weight of the vertebrae above it and the torso.

Vertebral arch
The vertebral arch extends backwards from the vertebral body and surrounds the spinal canal in which the spinal cord is located. It consists of two vertebral arch roots and a spinous process.

Transverse processes
Each vertebra has two transverse processes. They protrude laterally from the vertebral arch. Muscles and ligaments attach to them, which are important for stabilizing the spine.

Spinous process
The spinous process is an extension that projects backwards and to which muscles and ligaments also attach. It also serves as a lever arm for the back muscles.

Articular processes (facet joints)
These processes are located on the sides of the vertebral arches and form joints with neighboring vertebrae. They enable movements of the spine such as bending and turning.

Intervertebral foramen
The intervertebral foramen are located laterally between the vertebrae, through which nerve roots emerge from the spinal cord and lead to the various regions of the body.

Intervertebral discs
The intervertebral discs are soft but resilient structures made of cartilage tissue that are located between the vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers and allow the spine a certain degree of flexibility.

Together, these components form each individual vertebra, which differs in shape and size depending on its position in the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar vertebrae, etc.). The vertebrae are not only important for the mechanical support of the body, but also for the protection of the spinal cord and the transmission of forces and movements within the spine.

What is a vertebral blockage?

A blockage causes a vertebra to lose its normal mobility. Sometimes several vertebrae are affected at the same time. A blockage can be triggered by various causes, e.g:

Muscle tension
Vertebral blockages are often caused by muscle tension due to overloading, incorrect posture, stress or sudden movements. The surrounding tense muscles can consequently pull the vertebrae into a position in which they can no longer move freely.

Changes in the facet joints
The facet joints are the small joints between the vertebrae that ensure the mobility of the spine. If there is a blockage, these joints can get stuck. This results in limited mobility.

Intervertebral disc problems
Sometimes an intervertebral disc near a vertebra can also swell or become displaced, which can lead to a blockage – especially if it presses on or irritates nerve structures.

Possible symptoms of a vertebral blockage

Local pain
Pain in the area of the blocked vertebrae can be acute or chronic. Patients describe the pain as dull, stabbing or pulling. It can intensify with movement or persist at rest.

Restricted movement
The blocked vertebrae often lead to restricted mobility of the spine in certain directions. Turning or bending the back can be painful or only possible to a limited extent.

Muscle tension
The muscles around the blocked vertebrae can tense up because they want to stabilize the affected region. This tension can cause additional pain and further restrict mobility.

Radiating pain
Sometimes the pain radiates from the blocked area. You may then feel it in neighboring regions such as the shoulders, arms, buttocks or legs. This depends on the position of the affected vertebrae and the affected nerve roots.

Muscle and sensory disorders
In more severe cases, the blockage can also cause muscle weakness or numbness in the affected areas. This may indicate irritation or compression of the nerve roots.

Stiffness and a feeling of tension
Those affected often report a feeling of stiffness and tension in the affected area of the spine, especially after prolonged sitting or lying down.

Not all symptoms occur immediately and are present with the same intensity. The symptoms can also vary from person to person.

Diagnosis of a vertebral blockage

A vertebral blockage is diagnosed through a careful clinical examination in our private practice for orthopaedics and traumatology in Frankfurt. First, we will ask you about your symptoms, the onset of your complaints and any injuries or previous treatments. This is followed by a physical examination. We look for signs of muscle tension, swelling or asymmetries. Using targeted pressure points and movement tests, we identify the area of the spine that is affected by the blockage.

This is followed by certain tests: we ask you to perform various movements (e.g. bending, twisting and flexing the spine). We will check whether and where movement restrictions or pain occur. Neurological tests may also be used to clarify whether there is evidence of nerve irritation or compression.

In most cases, a vertebral blockage is a clinical diagnosis based on symptoms and physical examination. Sometimes we use X-rays – for example, to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms or to determine whether there are additional disc problems or structural changes.

Vertebral blockage, bulging disc, herniated disc – differential diagnosis necessary

There are various findings that can trigger similar symptoms. However, they have completely different causes and therefore different treatment approaches. In order to plan the right treatment, it is therefore important for us to find out what your underlying situation is.

Vertebral blockage

  • Cause
    A vertebral blockage is caused by a temporary restriction in the mobility of one or more vertebrae in the spine. This can be caused by muscle tension, incorrect posture, overloading or sudden movements.
  • Symptoms
    Local pain in the area of the blockage, restricted movement, tension in the surrounding muscles and possible radiation of the pain to neighboring regions are characteristic.

Protrusion of the intervertebral disc

  • Cause
    In a bulging disc, the outer fibrous ring of an intervertebral disc is weakened due to strain or wear. This causes the inner, gel-like core of the intervertebral disc to push outwards or bulge. However, it does not break through the fibrous ring.
  • Symptoms
    The disc protrusion can lead to back pain, which is often localized. Depending on the location of the protrusion, the pain may also radiate. Numbness or weakness in the affected areas is also possible.

You can find out more about this finding here: Treating a bulging disc: What you need to know

Herniated disc

  • Cause
    In a slipped disc, the inner, gel-like core of an intervertebral disc leaks through a tear or a weak point in the outer fibrous ring. This can happen due to sudden strain, wear and tear or degenerative changes.
  • Symptoms
    A herniated disc is accompanied by pain, which is often severe and can radiate to neighboring regions such as the arms or legs. Depending on the location of the prolapse and the affected nerve roots, neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling or muscle weakness may also occur.

You can find more information here: Slipped disc treatment: these options are available

Relieving vertebral blockages in Frankfurt

If we have diagnosed you with a vertebral blockage, treatment can take place directly in our practice in Frankfurt. The therapy aims to restore the normal mobility of the blocked vertebrae, relieve the pain and avoid further complications.

The treatment of choice is chirotherapy. We use special manual techniques to mobilize and manipulate the blocked vertebrae. In this context, many people refer to this as “realignment”. There is a cracking, popping sound when the vertebra returns to its normal position and the normal mobility of the spine is restored. Traction treatments, which have a similar approach, are also suitable for treating a vertebral blockage.

Depending on the individual case, painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also be used for short-term relief of pain and inflammation. We may also prescribe muscle relaxants to reduce the muscle tension often associated with a vertebral blockage.

In some cases, we can administer injections directly to the blocked area or around the nerve roots to reduce pain and inflammation. Simply contact us to make an appointment! After a thorough examination, we will address your findings.

Image sources: 210532272 © Teeradej | stock.adobe.com

You have questions or would like to

make an appointment?