A herniated (ruptured or “slipped”) disc results whenever a disc moves from place or bulges and puts pressure on the nerves or nerve roots. This kind of injury is comparatively common. Repetitive movements, lifting, being obese, and high-impact injuries, as well as simply the aging process, can cause a herniated disc.
As we age, we become more prone to disc injuries over time, primarily because the discs begin to degenerate: they dry out and can become torn and cracked. Moreover, certain genetic elements may also predispose a person to suffer from a herniated disc and disc degeneration.
Intervertebral discs would be the cushion-like pads that sit between the vertebrae of the spine; they act like shock absorbers and permit the spine to become elastic. A strong outer layer known as the annulus fibrosus surrounds a center called the nucleus pulposus, similar to a hard candy with a soft center. The spine can be broken up into regions. The vertebrae are numbered, and the discs are numbered by level. For example, the lumbar spine (lower back) vertebrae are tagged L1 to L5, and the discs are labeled L1-L2, all the way down to L5-S1 (where the spine joins the sacrum).
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Lumbar Herniated Disc and Sciatica
Several symptoms may indicate a LHD, or lumbar herniated disc. Pain can range from a dull ache to a severe, sharp pain. Sciatica is a type of nerve pain which could be caused by a lumbar disc compressing the nerve. The sciatic nerve originates in the lumbar spine and extends down the buttocks and down each leg. When a disc protrudes, it can compress the nerves, causing sciatica where pain extends from the buttock and thigh down into the leg and below the knee. You might have other symptoms, such as numbness on your leg or foot, burning or tingling sensations (paresthesias), muscular fatigue and/or weakness, abnormal reflexes, and, in severe cases, loss of bladder or bowel control (that constitutes a medical emergency and needs immediate attention).
Lumbar Herniated Disc Diagnosis
The science of a medical diagnosis starts with a history and physical examination. Your doctor will assess body movements and asks about your symptoms. If lifting up the leg while lying down generates pain which radiates down your leg, a diagnosis of LHD is possible, especially if you have other symptoms, such as numbness or paresthesias.
Although X-rays may help rule out other conditions, such as a fracture, for example, other imaging studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are necessary for a diagnosis of lumbar herniated disc. X-rays don’t show soft tissues like discs and nerves. Additional tests, such as nerve conduction studies and an electromyogram (EMG) are needed to confirm that a herniated disc is the source of the symptoms.
LHD and Sciatica Statistics
While low back pain is a common ailment, sciatica happens less frequently. Approximately 80% of the general population experiences low back pain but only 2-3% of people with low back pain actually have sciatica. Most cases of LHD occur in people aged 30 to 50 decades. The level of herniation is L4-L5, followed.
Is Surgery Necessary for LHD?
Herniated disks and sciatica often heal on their own with appropriate care, such as medications, injections, and physical therapy, including chiropractic care and other alternative treatment options. If the symptoms progress and when neurologic problems (such as shooting numbness or pain in the leg) become more severe, or when weakness in the leg or foot gets worse, surgery may be suggested.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Lower back pain is one of the most commonly reported symptoms among the general population. Sciatica, is well-known group of symptoms, including lower back pain, numbness and tingling sensations, which often describe the source of an individual’s lumbar spine issues. Sciatica can be due to a variety of injuries and/or conditions, such as spinal misalignment, or subluxation, disc herniation and even spinal degeneration.
The information herein on "El Paso Scientific Specialist: Lumbar Herniated Discs and Sciatica" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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