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What Are The Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments of Lumbar Disc Herniation

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What Are The Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments of Lumbar Disc Herniation

  • Dr. Charla Fischer
  • Feb 15, 2017

One of the common causes of lower back and leg pain is a herniated disc or lumbar ruptured disc. Dull or sharp pain, muscle spasm, cramping, leg weakness, sciatica or losses of leg function are some symptoms of it. The pain gets unbearable due to sneezing, coughing or bending. In rare cases, patients, lose bladder or bowel control, and if in case it occurs, it is advised to seek immediate medical attention. One of the prominent conditions attached to lumbar disc herniation is Sciatica. When pressure is caused on one or several nerves that contribute to the sciatic nerve, it leads to pain, numbness, burning and tingling sensation. It extends from buttocks to the leg (usually, only one side is affected by it).

How a lumbar herniated disc can cause lower back and leg pain?

There is a disc between each of the five lumbar vertebrae, which works as a shock absorbing pad. Individual discs are held in place by the endplates which line the ends of each vertebra. Each disc contains annulus fibrosus which is a tire like an outer band which contains nucleus pulposus, a gel-like substance. Disc herniation takes place when annulus fibrous cracks or breaks open, leading to the escape of nucleus pulposus. And this condition is called herniated disc. Herniated disc can press on the spinal cord or nerves and this is what leads to the excessive pain.

What are the risk factors of lumbar disc herniation?

  • Several changes take place as the body starts to age, natural biochemical changes, lead to the drying out of discs gradually.
  • Poor lifestyle choices such as lack of regular exercises, use of tobacco and unhealthy diet contribute towards lumbar disc herniation.
  • Poor body posture
  • Other than this, daily wear and tear, trauma, injury, body twisting, and improper weight lifting can lead to disc herniation.


Interestingly, not every lumbar herniated disc causes symptoms or pain. Some people discover that they have herniated or bulging disc after physical examination or X-ray for an unrelated reason. Usually, it is the unbearable pain that prompts patients to seek medical help. Specialist reviews the medical history conducts the physical and neurological exam and asks about any treatments tat you have tried before.

Nonsurgical treatments of Lumbar disc herniation

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxants or painkillers are prescribed to the patient
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Spinal injection
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture

Surgical treatments

Surgery is recommended if nonsurgical treatments fail to provide any relief or the pain becomes worse in lumbar disc herniation. In rare cases, the patient may lose bowel or bladder control or groin/ genital numbness. Today, minimally invasive spine surgery techniques are available which do not require large incisions, but small cuts and tiny instruments. The result is a lesser pain, lesser blood loss and faster recovery.

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