Spine

Lumbar Disc Herniation

A lumbar herniated disc is when you have a problem with one of the discs in your lumber (lower back) spine. Discs have a harder exterior and a softer interior. When some of the softer inside material pushes through a tear in the harder exterior, it’s a herniated disc (also called a ruptured or slipped disc).

Symptoms

Most herniated disks occur in your lower back (lumbar spine), although they can also occur in your neck (cervical spine). The most common symptoms are:

  • Arm or leg pain, depending on the location of your herniated disc.
  • Numbness or tingling in the area where the disc serves the nerves.
  • Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken so you may have trouble with stumbling or lifting.

You could also have no symptoms at all.

Treatment

Your doctor may tell you to take over-the-counter pain medication. If your pain doesn't improve, you may be prescribed narcotics for a short time or medications designed to control seizures, which help with pain associated with a herniated disc. If you are experiencing muscle spasms, you may be prescribed muscle relaxers. Cortisone injections are also used to reduce swelling and inflammation.

If your pain hasn’t reduced in a few weeks, you may need physical therapy to learn exercises that can minimize your pain. There are a small number of people who need surgery because all other treatments have not reduced or eliminated their pain. Surgeons can remove the protruding portion of the disk. In rare case, they remove the entire disc.