What are the symptoms of lumbar disc disease?

Symptoms vary greatly, depending on the position of the herniated disc and the size of the herniation. If the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, the patient may experience a low backache or no pain at all. If it is pressing on a nerve, there may be pain, numbness or weakness in the area of the body to which the nerve travels. Typically, a herniated disc is preceded by an episode of low back pain or a long history of intermittent episodes of low back pain.

The symptoms of lumbar disc disease vary depending on where the disc has herniated, and what nerve root it is pushing on. These are the most common symptoms of lumbar disc disease:

  • Intermittent or continuous back pain. This may be made worse by movement, coughing, sneezing, or standing for long periods of time.
  • Spasm of the back muscles
  • Sciatica. This is pain that starts near the back or buttock and travels down the leg to the calf or into the foot.
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Numbness in the leg or foot
  • Decreased reflexes at the knee or ankle
  • Changes in bladder or bowel function

The symptoms of lumbar disc disease may look like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is Lumbar Disc Disease Diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, you may have one or more of the following tests:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • Myelogram
  • CT Scan
  • Electromyography (EMG)

How is Lumbar Disc Disease Treated?

Typically, conservative therapy is the first line of treatment to manage lumbar disc disease. This may include a mix of the following:

  • Bed rest
  • Educating yourself in your limitations
  • Physical therapy, which may include ultrasound, massage, conditioning, and exercise programs
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Back support
  • Pain medicine
  • Treatment for Herniated Disc
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