What are treatment options for a herniated lumbar disc?
03/15/2019 by: Dr. Tumilian
Lower back pain is a very common occurrence and is one of the primary causes of days taken off work across the United States. There can be many different causes of lower back pain, and in many cases the problem may resolve itself without ever really finding out what was causing you to experience the discomfort. One fairly well-diagnosed reason to experience lower back is a condition known as a herniated lumbar disc.
What is a herniated lumbar disc?
Our spine is made up of a column of small bones, called vertebrae, and between each, a gel-filled disc known as an intervertebral disc. These discs have several functions including helping to cushion the bones of the spine so that they do not become damaged and giving it the ability to bend and twist. However, over time the pressure on these discs can cause them to become damaged. The soft, inner gel-like substance and push through the harder, outer layer causing it to bulge or even rupture entirely. This is known as herniation. When this happens to a disc located in the lower part of your back, which is commonly referred to as the lumbar spine, it is called a herniated lumbar disc and it can have a range of neurological effects.
Symptoms of a herniated lumbar disc
A herniated lumbar disc can cause a patient to experience a range of different symptoms with back pain being the most common, which can range from agonizing discomfort to mild aching. Other common signs of the condition include but are not limited to the following:
Strange sensations, including numbness, prickles, feeling hot then cold, tingling and more experienced in the lower back, buttocks, legs, feet and sometimes shoulders, arms, and hands.
Sciatic pain caused by compression of the sciatic nerve. This is discomfort that runs from the lower back into the buttocks and down into the legs.
Nerve pain, often that radiates down into the legs.
Difficulty walking, or a feeling like your limbs aren’t cooperating fully.
Pain that worsens with movement or hunching.
In rare cases, a patient may also experience a loss of bowel or bladder function. Again, this is a neurological problem caused by compression or irritation of the spinal cord and usually resolved by surgical treatment of the herniated disc. Again, this is not common.
Can chiropractic treatment help with my herniated lumbar disc?
Chiropractic care certainly has its place in treatment for back pain. In fact, many patients find that regular sessions of chiropractic manipulations can help to alleviate their back pain and give them greater mobility. However, it should be noted that in most instances, while chiropractic care can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with a herniated disc in the lumbar region of the spine, it often does not deal with the root cause of the problem. This means that regular appointments may be needed to maintain the physical improvement you feel, but as soon as you stop attending the issues will recur.
If you are found to be suffering from the following problems associated with your herniated disc, you should consider seeing a spine specialist. These include:
Loss of strength
Loss of reflexes
Loss of sensation
Other unusual neurological symptoms
What is the alternative to chiropractic treatment for my herniated lumbar disc?
If you wish to seek alternative forms of relief from your symptoms in addition to chiropractor care, you may see a spine specialist.
An experienced spine surgeon, such as Dr. Tumialán, has the necessary training and skill to be able to make professional recommendations as to the most effective treatment for your individual circumstances. Not all therapies and surgeries will be suitable for all patients. Dr. Tumialán will first talk you through some of the non-invasive treatments that you can use to alleviate your pain and other debilitating symptoms. This could include physical therapy, pain medications, and steroid injections. In the event that all forms of nonoperative measures do not resolve the pain or a neurological deficit has arisen, then a surgical option may be considered.
A minimally invasive microdiscectomy is a commonly performed surgery that involves removing the fragment of a herniated disc that is placing pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, causing your symptoms. It has a high degree of success and can provide virtually immediate relief from your back pain as well as restore your mobility. In some instances, it is necessary for the two vertebrae either side of the disc to be fused together to give the spine added stability.
If you are suffering from back pain that simply won’t go away, or if you have further questions about herniated lumbar discs and you would like to arrange an appointment to meet with our skilled and experienced spine surgeon, Dr. Tumialán, please contact our offices at your convenience.
If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.