Herniated Lumbar Disc
Herniated Lumbar Disc
Herniated discs are quite a common problem with many individuals. As the disc steadily degenerates over time, its inner core may leak out, a process referred to as disc herniation. In a number of cases, there is a weak spot which develops in the outer core of the disc directly below the spinal nerve root. As such, any herniation of the disc places some amount of pressure on the nerve.
There are three types of herniated discs: the herniated lumbar disc, the cervical herniated disc and the thoracic herniated disc. Of the three, the herniated lumbar disc is the most common; over 90% of all herniated disc cases are noted to be one of the herniated lumbar disc. Typical areas affected are the lumbar segment 5 and the sacral segment 1, each of which have symptoms unique to them.
If the herniated lumbar disc happens to press on a nerve root located in the lumbar segment 5, there is some weakness experienced when one is extending their big toe. In some cases, individuals have also experienced some weakness in their ankle. Other symptoms include numbness around the top of the foot as well as pain radiating down from the back to the buttock.
If the herniated lumbar disc happens to press on a nerve located in the sacral segment 1, the individual affected may experience loss of ankle reflex as well as the ability to raise their toes. Numbness and pain in this case tend to radiate all the way to the foot.
The most common problems associated with a herniated lumbar disc is pain and numbness. If the condition is to heal on its own, it should be given 4 to 6 weeks before the pain/numbness should dissipate. A number of doctors recommend conservative treatments during this waiting period. This is to help ease the pain as well as the discomfort caused by having the condition.
Some of the common conservative treatments for the herniated lumbar disc include chiropractic manipulations, oral steroids, epidurals, bed rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication as well as cortisone medication. Most patients with the condition respond well and report a substantial decrease in the pain/numbness felt before the waiting period is over.
However, if your condition does not respond to any or all of the non-surgical treatments mentioned above, your physician may recommend a surgical option, especially if the pain you feel is severe. Discectomy and microdisectomy are common surgeries recommended to help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by the condition.
Surgical options for a herniated lumbar disc are known to be very effective. With an experienced surgeon, you should expect a success rate of over 95%. While the microdiscectomy and the discectomy surgeries involve the removal of part of the herniated disc to alleviate pressure exerted on the affected nerve, your physician may consider fusion surgery if you keep having a herniated disc in the same location. Fusion surgery involves fusing the affected discs to stop their motion thus preventing them from causing any further problems.