LUMBAR DISC HERNIATION
One of the most common reasons people see a spine specialist is for treatment of pain in the lower back (called the lumbar spine) and one or both legs, which is called sciatica. This back pain is often caused by a lumbar disc herniation, which is known by a variety of names including a slipped disc, ruptured disc or herniated disc. In Morristown, New Jersey, Atlantic Spine Specialists has two renowned fellowship-trained, board-certified spine surgeons who specialize in treating disc herniation. Dr. Carl Giordano and Dr. Richard Nachwalter possess years of experience diagnosing and treating herniated discs as well as many other spinal conditions.
To learn more about lumbar disc herniation, request a consultation in Morristown, New Jersey at Atlantic Spine Specialists. Or you can call us at (973) 971-3500 to schedule your appointment.
About the Lumbar Spine
To understand lumbar disc herniation, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the lumbar spine anatomy. The lumbar spine is made up of five bones called vertebrae, which are numbered from top to bottom as L1 to L5. Each pair of vertebrae is separated and cushioned by an intervertebral disc. Each disc is made up of an outer covering called the annulus and a soft, inner core called the nucleus. When a lumbar disc becomes herniated, its nucleus bulges out through the annulus and compresses spinal nerves.
Symptoms of a herniated lumbar disc can occur in the lower back, hips, legs and buttocks. Patients typically experience one or a combination of the following:
- Discomfort or pain that radiates from the lower back, down one or both legs and possibly to the feet
- Constant shooting pain that may increase when moving or sitting
- Leg weakness
- Numbness and tingling in the leg or foot
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty walking
- Problems with bladder or bowel control, in severe cases
For a visual reference you can watch animations of lumbar disc herniation.
Herniated discs are usually caused by disc degeneration due to aging and most often occur in people who are 35 to 55. Sometimes trauma, heavy lifting or sudden twisting can cause a disc to suddenly rupture.
Accurate diagnosis is the key to appropriate and effective treatment for your pain. Drs. Giordano and Nachwalter are highly experienced in diagnosing spinal disorders as well as providing both surgical and non-surgical care. During your consultation, your doctor will:
- Review your symptoms (such as where you have pain, weakness, and numbness) and what limitations these symptoms place on your everyday activities
- Perform a physical exam including an assessment of nerve function, muscle strength, response to sensory input (such as pressure and touch) and check reflexes
- Evaluate your medical history
- Order diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT and MRI scans or review the results of scans you have already had
Your doctor will review treatment options once he has diagnosed your condition and determined the cause of your symptoms. He will review the risks and benefits of each option and assist you in deciding which one is best for you.
Drs. Giordano and Nachwalter take a conservative approach to treatment of spinal conditions. They recommend surgery as a last resort when symptoms do not improve with non-surgical treatment. Treatment for a herniated lumbar disc may include:
- Modified activity
- Steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- A surgical procedure such as lumbar discectomy or disc replacement