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The spine is the most important and has a complex, curved structure that supports the weight of the upper body and head. It consists of various bones, muscles, and ligaments, that hold it together. It acts like a protective shield for the spinal cord, which carries nerves from your brain to other body parts through the back. 

Generally, the human spine has 33 vertebrae (bones) and is classified into 5 regions, as follows: 

  • The neck region, also called the cervical spine, has 7 vertebrae, which are labelled C1-C7
  • The upper back, also called the thoracic spine, has 12 vertebrae, which are labelled T1-T12
  • The lower back, also called the lumbar spine, has 5 vertebrae, which are labelled L1-L5
  • The pelvis region, also called the sacral spine or sacrum, has 5 vertebrae, which are labelled S1-S5
  • The tailbone, also called the coccygeal, has 4 vertebrae, which are labelled Co1-Co4

However, the top 24 bones are movable, while the remaining sacrum and coccyx vertebrae are fused. An intervertebral disc (or intervertebral fibrocartilage) is cushioned between each of these vertebral bones, and they act as shock absorbers. 

These discs are filled with a gel-like substance called gelatinous, called the nucleus pulposus, which provides smooth movement to the spinal column. When these discs are damaged, it leads to several complications, like back pain, stiffness, etc. 

There are several types of disc problems, and the causes are manyfold. 

  • Herniated Disc 
  • Degenerative Disc Disease 
  • Bulging Disc 
  • Disc Extrusion 
  • Disc Protrusion 
  • Disc Desiccation 
  • Annular Tear 

Lumbar Disc Herniation

A slipped or ruptured disc is defined as a herniated disc. Disc herniation is a common spinal condition where the inner core of the disc (nucleus pulposus) bulges out and presses on nearby nerves, causing deliberating symptoms. 

If this disc herniation happens to the invertible discs of the lumbar spine, it is said to be lumbar disc herniation. 

Causes lumbar disc herniation

several factors can lead to lumbar disc herniation, which includes:

Degeneration of the disc: With increasing age, a lot of changes happen to the human body, and these discs may experience degenerative changes, such as the disc becoming dry (losing water content) and loss of elasticity, which makes them more vulnerable to herniation.

Trauma: Injury to the back or vertebral column during accidents, falls, etc.  While lifting heavy objects, the risk of a herniated disc increases due to improper lifting techniques or sudden twisting movements.

Aging: The natural aging process makes the discs weak, which increases the risk of a herniated disc.

Symptoms of lumbar disc herniation

The symptoms of this condition vary from one person to another, depending on the location and severity of the disc herniation. 

However, here are some common symptoms:

  • Lower back pain — sometimes this pain radiates down to the lower limbs 
  • Sciatica
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensation
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms

Initially, these symptoms may cause mild discomfort, and if left untreated, the condition may result in debilitating pain and loss of function.

Diagnosis of lumbar disc herniation

Diagnosis involves several steps, as follows:

A physical exam could be the first test where the doctor evaluates the extremes of your spinal mobility, muscle strength, and sensation along the spine to the legs.

Next, the doctor observes and evaluates various symptoms and their progression. He also observes how and when the symptoms are triggered, for instance, by specific movements or lifting objects.

Doctors suggest certain imaging tests, like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, so that they can see the vertebral column and find the exact location of herniated disc. 

In some severe cases, nerve conduction tests or electromyography are suggested to assess the functioning of nerves in the back and legs.

Treatment for lumbar disc herniation 

Treatment for this condition mainly depends on the severity of the condition, which includes:

Taking rest, avoiding activities that trigger the symptoms, and allowing it to heal.

Physical therapy is also a great option to fix disc herniation problems. Developing a specific exercise plan with the help of a physical therapist can strengthen the surrounding muscles. Improves your posture and biomechanics.

Medications like painkillers, NSAIDs, and muscle relaxants can provide relief from pain and decrease inflammation.

If inflammation and pain are severe, doctors inject corticosteroid drugs directly into the affected area.

When the non-surgical treatment options fail to treat herniated disc problems, or in severe cases, surgery would be the next best option. There are different surgical options available to treat herniated disc problems, where discectomy, which involves removing the herniated portion of the disc, or spinal fusion, which involves fusing the two vertebrae to prevent movement, are the most common surgical procedures. 

Microdiscectomy, laminectomy, laminotomy, and artificial disc replacement are other important surgical procedures to treat herniated discs. Are you suffering from back pain? It might be due to a disc problem. To find the exact cause of your back pain consult Dr. Surya Prakash, one of the best spine doctors in Hyderabad. He has more than 20 years of experience in treating various spine problems and is an expert in treating lumbar disc herniation. For an appointment call +91 9848024699 and book your slot.


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