Lumbar Herniated Disc - Topic Overview
This topic is for a people who have a herniated disc in the lower back. If you are looking for information on a herniated disc in the neck, see the topic Cervical Disc Herniation.
(vertebrae) that form the
spine in your back are cushioned by small, spongy
discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine
and keep the spine flexible. But when a disc is damaged, it may bulge or break
open. This is called a herniated disc . It may also be called a slipped or
You can have a herniated
disc in any part of your spine. But most herniated discs affect the lower back
(lumbar spine). Some happen in the neck (cervical spine) and, more rarely, in
the upper back (thoracic spine).
A herniated disc may be caused by:
- Wear and tear of the disc. As you age, your
discs dry out and aren't as flexible.
- Injury to the spine. This may
cause tiny tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc. When this
happens, the thick gel inside the disc can be forced out through the tears or cracks
in the outer layer of the disc. This causes the disc to bulge or break open.
herniated disc presses on
nerve roots , it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness
in the area of the body where the nerve travels. A herniated disc in the lower
back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg. This is
called sciatica (say "sy-AT-ih-kuh"). Sciatica is the most
common symptom of a herniated disc in the low back.
herniated disc isn't pressing on a nerve, you may have a backache or no pain
If you have weakness or numbness in both legs along with
loss of bladder or bowel control, seek medical care right away. This could be a
sign of a rare but serious problem called
cauda equina syndrome.
Your doctor may
diagnose a herniated disc by asking questions about your symptoms and examining
you. If your symptoms clearly point to a herniated disc, you may not need
Sometimes a doctor will do tests such as an
MRI or a
CT scan to confirm a herniated disc or rule out other