Is Your Lower Back Pain Caused by a Herniated Disc?
If you are experiencing lower back pain, you may have a herniated disc. This blog post provides an overview of discs, as well as the symptoms and treatments available for a disc that is herniated.
Discs in the back are pads that serve as cushions between the vertebrae, which minimize the impact of movement on the spinal column. Each disc looks a bit like a jelly donut with a central softer component called the nucleus pulposus. An abnormal rupture of the central portion of the disc is referred to as a disc herniation.
Herniated disc symptoms depend on the level of the spine where the disc herniation occurs and whether or not nerve tissue is being irritated. Sometimes a disc herniation will not cause any symptoms. However, disc herniation can cause considerable pain at the level of the spine affected, as well as in the extremities.
The most common location for a herniated disc to occur is in the disc between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. If the disc herniation is large enough, the disc tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves that exit the spine at the level of the disc herniation. This can cause shooting pain in the nerve and usually occurs on one side of the body; this condition is called sciatica.
If the disc herniation is very large, it can press on spinal nerves on both sides of the body, resulting in severe pain down one or both lower extremities. Other symptoms include marked weakness of the lower extremities and even incontinence of bowel and bladder. This condition is referred to as cauda equina syndrome.
Your spine specialist can diagnose a herniated disc with a physical examination, imaging tests, and electrical tests. Depending on the severity of the symptoms you are experiencing, treatment for a herniated disc may include physical therapy, muscle-relaxant medications, pain medications, anti-inflammation medications, local injections of cortisone, and surgery.
If you suspect you may have a herniated disc, please make an appointment with Dr. Sharma today.