Lumbar Herniated Disc
What is a Lumbar Herniated Disk?
A herniated disk is a condition in which the outer fibers (annulus) of the intervertebral disk are damaged, causing the soft inner material of the nucleus pulposus to rupture out of its space. It is the most common cause of lower back pain and pain that radiates down the leg (radiculopathy).
Causes of a Lumbar Herniated Disk
A herniated disk, common in the lower back (lumbar spine), occurs when there is a tear in the outer lining of the disk (annulus fibrosus). This causes the inner jelly-like material (nucleus pulposus) to leak out and place pressure on the adjacent spinal nerve root.
Symptoms of a Lumbar Herniated Disk
The most common signs and symptoms of a lumbar disk herniation are back pain that radiates to the buttocks and legs, numbness in the leg or foot, weakness in the leg or foot, and rarely, loss of bowel and bladder control.
Diagnosis of a Lumbar Herniated Disk
Proper diagnosis of the condition requires a complete medical history and a careful physical examination by your physician. Some of the additional diagnostic tests your doctor may suggest include:
- X-rays help to detect the amount of wear and tear present and to rule out other conditions.
- CT and MRI scans help to confirm the diagnosis of a herniated disk.
Treatment Options for a Lumbar Herniated Disk
Conservative Treatment for a Lumbar Herniated Disk
Conservative treatments include pain medications, physical therapy and avoiding strenuous activity if the pain is severe.
Epidural steroid injection (ESI) can be considered if the pain is intolerable even with medications and rest.
Surgical Treatment for a Lumbar Herniated Disk
Lumbar microdiskectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the herniated part of the disk and any fragments that are applying pressure on the spinal nerve. This surgical procedure involves the use of a surgical microscope and microsurgical techniques to gain access to the lumbar spine. The microscope magnifies and illuminates the area of operation. Only a small portion of the herniated disk that pinches the nerve roots is removed.