You can’t live without your spine. Your overall health and function greatly hinge on it. This is why it is important for you to get a good understanding of its elements, their functions, and the conditions that affect them.
Your spine has five main regions: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, and coccyx. The lumbar region is located in your lower back, between your rib cage and your pelvis.
The lumbar spine provides several crucial functions, such as supporting your upper body and facilitating movements of your trunk (front and back, side-to-side, and twisting). It has five vertebrae (small, interlocking bones) with discs in between them that act as cushions.
What Is a Herniated Lumbar Disc?
As you age, your lumbar discs lose their flexibility, making them more susceptible to tearing or rupturing with just a minor strain. When the jelly-like substance in your discs ruptures through the surrounding wall, it would cause pressure and irritation on the nearby nerves and soft tissue. This results in a condition known as a herniated disc (also called ruptured or slipped disc).
If you have a herniated lumbar disc, the symptoms you may have would depend on where the disc has herniated, the size of herniation, if it is pushing on a nerve root and which nerve root is affected. There are people who don’t experience any symptoms from a herniated disc, but those who do, may experience the following:
· Neurological Symptoms: Numbness and Tingling Sensation
One symptom of a herniated disc is numbness, which occurs when the contents of your disc place pressure on the spinal nerve root. The numbness may extend down one or both of your legs.
Similarly, spinal nerve compression can cause tingling sensation, which may radiate down one or both of your legs.
· Low Back Pain
The severity of pain may vary on each person. Generally, a herniated lumbar disc causes continuous low back pain, which gets worse when you cough, move, sneeze, or stand for long periods of time.
A herniated lumbar disc can also cause sciatica, a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated or inflamed. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back, through your hips and buttocks, and down each of your legs. Sciatica causes pain that starts from your lower back, through your buttocks, and all the way down to your feet. This explains why you may also experience foot pain if you have a herniated lumbar disc.
· Foot Drop
This is associated with the neurological symptoms caused by disc herniation. Foot drop is a condition characterized by muscular weakness or paralysis, which renders you unable to lift the front part of your toes and whole foot and causes you to drag your foot on the ground when you walk.
· Changes in Bladder or Bowel Function
If you have a severe case of slipped disc, you may experience changes in your bladder or bowel function. This is a severe symptom that can develop very quickly, thus the need for urgent surgical intervention.
Other Symptoms of Herniated Lumbar Disc
The following are some of the other symptoms of a herniated lumbar disc. Keep in mind that they may be similar to those of other medical conditions, so it is best to see your orthopedist for an accurate diagnosis.
- Back muscle spasm
- Decreased reflexes in your knee or ankle
- Leg nerve pain (described as radiating, searing, and sharp)
Highly Qualified Orthopedists in Dover, NJ
Avoiding treatment for a herniated lumbar disc is a matter of personal choice and pain tolerance. However, babying it can lead to more severe complications, which is why it proves prudent to seek prompt treatment for it.
At Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey, our highly skilled orthopedists have decades of experience in diagnosing and treating a vast range of orthopedic conditions, such as lumbar disc herniation. We will provide a thorough evaluation of your condition so as to come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
At Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey, we are committed to establishing lasting relationships with our patients based on open communication and trust, so we can deliver the best, most individualized care for you.
For more information about our orthopedic services or to schedule an appointment, you may call us at 973-989-0888, or use our convenient online request form.