As a disc degenerates, it can herniate (the inner core leaks out), which is known as a disc herniation or a herniated disc. The weak spot in the outer core of the disc is directly under the spinal nerve root, so a herniation in this area puts direct pressure on the nerve, which in turn can cause sciatica. Pain that radiates down the leg and is caused by a herniated disc is called a radiculopathy.
Lumbar Herniated Disc Symptoms
Approximately 90% of disc herniations will occur toward the bottom of the spine at L4- L5 (lumbar segments 4 and 5) or L5- S1 (lumbar segment 5 and sacral segment1), which causes pain in the L5 nerve or S1 nerve, respectively.
• L5 nerve impingement from a herniated disc can cause weakness in extending the big toe and potentially in the ankle (foot drop). Numbness and pain can be felt on top of the foot, and the pain may also radiate into the buttock.
• S1 nerve impingement from a herniated disc may cause loss of the ankle reflex and/or weakness in ankle push off (patients cannot do toe rises). Numbness and pain can radiate down to the sole or outside of the foot Lumbar Herniated Disc Treatments
In most cases, if a patient’s low back and/or leg pain is going to get better after a lumbar herniated disc it will start to do so within about six weeks. While waiting to see if the disc will heal on its own, several non-surgical treatment options can help reduce the back pain, leg pain and discomfort caused by the herniated disc.
Several of the most common nonsurgical treatments include:
• Spinal Decompression
• Chiropractic care
• Physical Therapy
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
• An epidural (cortisone) injection
• Disc Surgery
Spinal Decompression Therapy
Non-surgical Spinal Decompression is a revolutionary new technology used primarily to treat herniated discs in the neck and low back. Spinal Decompression Therapy is designed to take the pressure off the herniated disc and compressed nerves by slowly and gently stretching the spine at a certain angle followed by cycles of partial relaxation. This pattern of distraction and relaxation creates a “vacuum effect” or negative intra-discal pressure.
The negative pressure may induce the retraction of the herniated or bulging disc back into the inside of the disc taking pressure off of the nerve. The cycle of decompression and partial relaxation, over a series of visits, promotes diffusion of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disc. The nutrients enable the torn and degenerated disc fibers to begin to heal.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression is very effective at treating herniated discs, bulging discs, pinched nerves, sciatica radiating arm pain, degenerative disc disease, leg pain, and facet syndrome. Proper patient selection is imperative and when combined with the proper core stabilization program, patient outcomes improve.