Lumbar Disc Herniation: Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors

Your lumbar spine consists of several vertebrae, and in between each bone is an intervertebral disc. The disc has a soft, jellylike center called the nucleus and a tougher, rubbery outer membrane (annulus). Lumbar disc herniation or a slipped disc occurs when the nucleus pushes out through a weak spot or tear in the tough exterior. The ruptured or slipped disc may compress your spinal canal or nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness in your leg. Often, symptoms tend to improve over time or within a few days or weeks of modifying activities and taking pain medications. However, for severe pain that interferes with your normal activities, Jeff Pan, MD, offers neurosurgery Edison which involves minimally invasive procedures to treat complex conditions.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

As previously mentioned, many people with a herniated disc experience no symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they will depend on where the slipped disk is situated and whether it is pressing on nerves. In this case, we are discussing a herniated disc in the lower back, but a herniated disc can also occur in the neck. A herniated disc in the lower back causes pain; besides low back pain, you may feel pain in your buttocks, thigh, and calf. The pain may also radiate to your foot.

Because of the pressed nerves, you may radiate numbness o tingling in the body part served by the affected nerves. The muscles served by the pressed nerve tend to weaken, causing you to stumble.

Causes of lumbar disc herniation?

Disc herniation most often results from material degeneration that occurs naturally with age. The discs become less flexible and more susceptible to rupture as the degeneration progresses, even with a relatively minor strain or twisting movement. Besides aging-related wear and tear, disc herniation can be caused by a single excessive stress or injury. In most cases, people can’t pinpoint the specific cause of their disk herniation. A herniated disk can result from using your back muscles instead of thigh and leg muscles to lift heavy objects. A fall or blow to the back can result in a slipped disc, but this is rare.

Risk factors of lumbar disc herniation

Certain individuals have an elevated risk of disc problems, and as a result, they may suffer herniated discs in several places along the spine. For example, a predisposition to herniated discs may exist in families where several members have disc problems. Weight is another risk factor for lumbar disc herniation; being overweight causes excess pressure or stress on the disks in your lower back, making them more susceptible to rupture. You are also more likely to suffer a herniated disc if you have a physically demanding job that requires repetitive pulling, pushing, lifting, bending sideways, and twisting. Smoking also puts you at risk of disc problems since it lessens the oxygen supply to discs, accelerating degeneration.

Your risk of a herniated disc is also higher if you drive frequently; being seated for extended periods combined with the vibration from the engine puts pressure on your spine.

Consult your Jeff Pan, MD specialist, to know your treatment options for a herniated disc.

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