A Note on Lumbar Disc Herniation and Treatment
- Dr. Charla Fischer
- Jul 19, 2017
Lumbar disc herniation can be a common cause of lower back and leg pain and the symptoms of this condition are muscle cramping, dull or sharp pain, sciatica and loss of leg function. The pain gets intensified when one cough, sneezes, bends or twists. In rare condition, one may experience loss of bladder and bowel movement and if this happens, seek medical advice immediately.
Sciatica is a condition which is associated with lumbar disc herniation. Pressure on the nerves that contribute to sciatic nerve can lead to numbness, tingling, or pain that extends from buttocks down the leg and foot. Usually, one side of the body is affected by sciatica.
What are lumbar disc herniation risk factors?
Many factors including the sedentary lifestyle contribute toward lumbar disc herniation. Let’s study them one by one:
Aging process: As, the body starts to age, the natural biochemical changes make the discs dry, and this can affect their strength. Aging process makes intervertebral discs less capable of absorbing the shock because of movements which otherwise is its prime job.
Lifestyle choices: Lifestyle choices play a major role in lumbar disc herniation. Lack of regular exercise, use of tobacco and inadequate nutrition contribute to poor disc health.
Poor posture: It is important to maintain a good posture because incorrect body mechanics can stress the lumbar spine and hinders its normal ability to carry body’s weight.
Other than the factors mentioned above, daily wear and tear, incorrect lifting, twisting, bending and injury can lead to disc herniation.
What are the reasons behind disc herniation?
A disc herniation can develop either suddenly or gradually over a period of weeks. Below are the four stages of disc herniation:
Disc herniation: There are several chemical changes in the body that are related to the aging process. They weaken the disc, but herniation is not caused.
Prolapse: The position of the disc due to impingement into the spinal canal or spinal nerves. The stage is called as protruding or bulging disc.
Extrusion: It occurs when the gel-like nucleus breaks through the annulus fibrosis but remains within the disc.
Sequestered disc: In this condition, nucleus pulposus breaks through annulus fibrosis and leaks outside the disc.
How is the condition diagnosed?
Not all herniated disc causes symptoms, as most people discover they suffer from this condition after X-ray, which was done for a completely unrelated reason. In most cases, it is a pain that prompts the patient to seek medical care, and a visit to the doctor usually include a physical and neurological test.
Non-surgical lumbar disc herniation
treatment includes cold therapy and medications, spinal injection, and physical therapy. In case, nothing seems to help, surgery is advised. Fortunately, minimally invasive spine surgery is available these days, which calls for lesser incision and faster recovery.
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