We see many patients who complain about low back pain and stiffness in muscles such as their hips, quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings without even realizing that they may have a herniated disc in their lumbar spine.
Below you will find common questions about and answers to Lumbar Disc Herniations. We will also discuss basic treatment styles for such herniations and explain how they work.
1. WHAT IS A DISC HERNIATION OF THE LUMBAR SPINE?
Literally, a disc herniation is when the nucleus pulposis of a disc migrates out through the annular fibrosis into the outer portion of a spinal disc. So what does that mean?! Picture it this way. A disc is like a jelly donut, it is made up of 2 parts. The center is the jelly (nucleus pulposis) and it is supposed to stay in the center. It is surrounded by the donut (annulus fibrosis). Unlike a donut, there is no hole in the disc to inject the jelly into so there are really no weak points for the jelly to come out. Take a look at the picture below and you will see a cross section of both a normal intervertebral disc and a herniated disc.
There are so many different ways an intervertebral spinal disc can herniate. Sports injuries, slips and falls, car accidents (MVA’s) or even abnormal wear and tear. If the body is out of alignment and one side rubs more than the other, it can lead to an area getting weak and that can cause a disc to herniate. At The Spine and Health Center, we see a lot of people with bad posture that have sustained herniated discs. Repetitive stress injuries, overuse syndromes and a whole lot of other issues can also cause intervertebral discs to herniate, but I think you get the point.
3. WHAT ARE SOME SYMPTOMS OF LUMBAR DISC HERNIATIONS?
When you have a herniated disc that means there has been some significant soft tissue damage. The damage causes an inflammatory response in the body that often includes muscle spasms and pain in the surrounding muscles and joints. That combination of symptoms can be applied to any type of soft tissue damage including sprained ankles, bruises, shoulder injuries and much more. I think everyone knows what happens when they stub their toes. That is your body’s response to injury and damage. It is your defense mechanism and you don’t have to think about doing it because it happens automatically. With herniated discs, though, it doesn’t stop there. The jelly (nucleus pulpous) creeps out of the disc and goes into the part of the spine that the spinal cord and spinal nerves go through. That’s where the real problems begin. Sometimes the herniation is large enough where the jelly pushes right onto the spinal cord or the spinal nerves that go through the area of the spine that the disc herniates from. When you “pinch” a nerve like that you get a whole other list of symptoms due to the injury to the nerve. These can include pain, numbness and tingling, burning, weakness, loss of sensation, loss of muscle strength, loss of muscle mass (atrophy) and in the most serious situations, paralysis.
4. WHAT TREATMENTS ARE THERE FOR L3-L4, L4-L5, L5-S1 DISC HERNIATIONS?
At The Spine and Health Center of Montvale, we have had tremendous success helping patients with herniated discs. We have a large population of our patients that have suffered herniated intervertebral discs in their cervical spines (necks) and lumbar spines (low backs). At our office we have combined the latest advances in physical medicine to help treat not only the symptoms associated with herniations but get to the root of the issue. We utilize Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Active Release Technique (ART™) Acupuncture and Massage as well as more technological modalities like our Diowave™ Hot Laser, Decompression, Flexion/Distraction tables and Active Therapeutic Movements (ATM’s).
We hope this will answer some of your questions about herniated discs. If there is anything more we can help you with, don’t hesitate to call The Spine and Health Center of Montvale. Our phone number is 201-746-6577 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also want to check out our article about Cervical Spine Disc Herniations.