Lumbar Disc Herniation

The spine is truly a marvelous set of bones, or more adequately stated, the vertebrae. The entire length of the spine provides protection, support and flexibility for your body. Interestingly, the average sized adult head weighs about 5 kilos or about 11 lbs., so the spine is supporting the equivalent of a bowling bowl.

The vertebra houses the spinal cord that is the nerve centre carrying millions of messages between the body and the brain. Nerves branch out from each vertebrae communicating with the various organs and parts of the body. A nerve irritation from spinal misalignment means that you are likely to feel the results elsewhere, such as sciatica or radiculopathy. Neck problems that affect a cervical nerve root can create symptoms such as pain in the arms and hands; and the lumbar (or lower back) nerve will send pain through the leg and to the foot.

Lumbar disc herniation or radiculopathy is a common problem that occurs when nerve roots are irritated or compressed; many people refer to this as sciatica. Actually, about 90 percent of all disc herniations occur in the lumbar region of the spine.


Getting older means that the discs in the spine generally lose their flexibility and this means the risk of injury increases. An accident, lifting an item incorrectly, being overweight and even smoking can attribute to disc herniations.

When injury occurs, the soft gel-like material inside the disc ruptures through the outer lining of the cartilage. Usually there is space between the spinal column and the discs but when a lumbar disc herniation applies pressure on a spinal nerve, and then there is trouble.


IIf there is pressure happening in the lumbar region, some symptoms include muscle weakness, numbness and sometimes pain. There can also be tingling. If a lumbar disc herniation puts a lot of pressure on the spinal nerves, then the symptoms will be felt more intense. Common body functions such as urinating, defecating, coughing, sneezing or laughing can heighten the pain of a lumbar disc herniation.


Diagnosing lumbar disc herniation involves a variety of methods depending on which health professional you choose to visit. A health professional may test your coordination, reflexes, muscle strength and possibly even test your ability to feel sensations. In more severe cases, a spinal MRI, CAT scan or X-ray may be required in order to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment And Management

Your health professional will work with you in order to develop a treatment plan that works best for you. Everyone is unique therefore an individual treatment plan must be catered to take into consideration the severity of the symptoms as well as your activity level.

A lumbar disc herniation can be treated with non-surgical options in about 90 percent of all cases. Some treatment options include the use of heat, the use of cold compresses, or physiotherapy.

Preventing lumbar disc herniation recurrence
can involve simple strategies such as:

  • Maintaining and keeping a healthy weight
  • Good posture at all times
  • Bending the knees when picking up items
  • Avoiding high heels
  • Exercises that help to develop strength in the back muscles and in the abdominal area
  • Reducing or eliminating smoking

Some patients suffering with lumbar disc herniations require surgical intervention but this is only when non-surgical treatments have not provided pain relief; but this is always as a last resort because surgery is invasive.

Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment options are very effective and for most patients are recommended. Treatment may involve several visits but the results are worth it.

Spinal decompression therapy is another effective method to manage and/or eliminate pain. It's crucial that patients follow the treatment plan as explained by their health professional in order to maximize the end result which is elimination of pain and increased quality of life.

Treating and managing lumbar disc herniations can be successful when you follow the advice of a health professional. There is no need to suffer when there are many simple options available to you.

March 10, 2014

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