In most cases, lower back pain is the first sign of a herniated disc. The pain may last for a few days and then improve. Other symptoms may include:
- Sciatica, a sharp, shooting pain that starts from the buttock and extends down through the back of one leg
- Numbness or tingling in the leg and/or foot
- Weakness in the leg and/or foot
A herniated disc can occur anywhere along the spine but most often occurs in the lower back or the lumbar spine. This condition often caused by natural wear and tear on the spine as we age, a process called disc degeneration. A disc in the back begins to herniate when it pushes against the outer ring of the spine. That is due to wear and tear or a sudden injury. This pressure may cause lower back pain.
If the pressure continues, the jelly-like nucleus may push through the disc's outer ring or cause the ring to bulge, which puts pressure on the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots. Also, the disc material releases chemical irritants that contribute to nerve inflammation. When a nerve root is irritated, there may be pain, numbness, and weakness in one or both legs, a condition called "sciatica."
What treatments are used for a herniated lumbar disc?
For most patients, a lumbar disc herniation will slowly improve over several days or weeks. Most patients experience relief from symptoms in three to four months. However, some patients go through interventions to alleviate painful symptoms. Nonsurgical treatments such as rest, medications like ibuprofen and naproxen, physical therapy, and steroid injections are all helpful in relieving the pain of a herniated disc. If these options fail to work or there is a larger issue, surgery such as microdiscectomy may be necessary.
If you would like to learn more about lumbar disc herniation or schedule a consultation, request an appointment with NewSouth NeuroSpine. We are committed to treating and caring for each individual.