Lumbar Disc Herniation

Lumbar Disc Herniation

A lumbar disc herniation refers to a herniated disc that is located in the lumbar spine or lower back. Spinal discs serve as shock absorbers and sit between the vertebrae. The outer ring portion of the disc is called the annulus and is composed of a tough, rubber-like substance.

The annulus protects the centre of the disc, called the nucleus, which is comprised of a gelatin-like substance. When the annulus cracks or tears, the nucleus pushes its way through the crack which results in a herniated or ‘slipped’ disc. The herniated disc may push against the nearby spinal nerve root.

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Most disc herniations occur in the lower back and more commonly affects people aged 35 to 50.  A herniated disc in the lower back can irritate or put pressure on a nearby spinal nerve root. This can lead to pain, numbness, or muscle weakness in your lower extremity or leg.

What causes a lumbar disc herniation? 

Lumbar disc herniation commonly results from the daily wear and tear on the spine which occurs over time called degeneration. As we get older, our spinal discs lose water, become less flexible and are more at risk of rupturing or tearing. Other causes of lumbar disc herniation include injury or trauma.

Symptoms of lumbar disc herniation

In the large majority of cases, the discomfort or symptoms from a lumbar disc herniation will resolve within 6 to 8 weeks. Most discomfort from a herniated disc is caused by the compression or inflammation of a nearby nerve. Symptoms of a herniated lumbar disc include: 

  • Sharp or burning pain in your buttock, thigh and calf (may include your foot)
  • Tingling or numbness 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bladder or bowel impairment/dysfunction (only in severe cases)

Usually the symptoms from a herniated lumbar disc are contained to one side of your body. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Lumbar disc herniation is diagnosed through reviewing your medical history, a physical exam and MRI.

The symptoms caused by disc herniation will resolve in the majority of patients. If the symptoms are persistent and severe for several months despite adequate non-operative treatment, you may be a candidate for surgery.

This will depend on the procedure and may be as early as 2 to 4 weeks.

Receive the care you need right away

Horizon Surgical can expedite your minimally invasive spine surgery to be done in a timely fashion. From beginning to end, you can typically receive your minimally invasive spine surgery within a couple months. With our reduced recovery times, you’ll be able to get back to living your life and doing what you love most right away.

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