Herniated Disc – Lumbar

GENERAL OVERVIEW

Lumbar Disc Herniations are a common problem that often leads to lower lumbar pain and associated symptoms of numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain that radiate down your lower back and into your legs.

ANATOMY

The lumbar disc acts as a shock absorber between two cinderblocks (vertebrae) to help decrease the stress between the bones and allows for movement of the lower back.

CAUSES

In most cases, these discs wear out, weaken, and become arthritic over time or “wear and tear”.  When the discs continue to weaken, they eventually tear or rupture outward.  If the disc bulge rupture extends outward far enough, this in turn pushes on your nerves and spinal cord – causing a disc herniation.

This herniation further causes either numbness, tingling, weakness, or a combination of all three.  Usual causes of lower lumbar disc herniations occur from lifting a heavy object, repetitive bending or twisting motions, trauma, or sometimes by no injury at all.

Remember that nerves have two main components – sensory and motor function.  Either one, the other, or both can be effected and cause severe symptoms that limit strength, reflexes, sensation, and pain.  These can each range from mild symptoms to severe which can ultimately lead to nerve damage if the pressure is prolonged and severe enough.

DIAGNOSTICS

The initial starting point for diagnosing whether you have a lumbar disc herniation starts with a plain radiograph (x-ray) to check for alignment of your spine and other potential sources of pain.  If warranted, another radiographic test – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), for short, can further diagnose the musculature of your back to evaluate the extent

TREATMENTS

The good news is there are a number of different treatment options for you depending on what you are experiencing.  Usually most cases  of disc herniations are treated conservatively at the beginning through anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and other medications.

For the most part, these conservative measures can take care of the majority of these signs and symptoms without ever having to go to surgery.    However, depending on the severity of your signs, symptoms, and how long this has been ongoing, more aggressive measures may be indicated.

Surgical intervention is usually reserved for when all conservative measures including possible steroid injections have failed.  This surgical procedure has a high success rate and can usually take care of the majority of your signs and symptoms related to your disc herniation(s).

Please see your physician to determine what treatment course is right for you.

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Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon