The vertebrae are a series of bones that are connected with each other, making up the spine. The lumbar disc, which consists of strong connecting tissue, holds one vertebra to another, serving as a cushion between each bone of the vertebrae. The lumbar disc has a tough external layer with a center like a gel, which typically loses fluid as one gets older, making the lumbar disc a poor cushion. Additionally, the center of the disc may also become herniated or, in other words, displaced. Lumbar herniated disc usually occurs to the two discs from the bottom of the lumbar spine.
A lumbar herniated disc can put pressure on the spinal nerves causing the condition known as sciatica, which lumbar herniated disc is characterized by numbness, weakness, tingling and/or pain in the leg. Approximately 1 to 2 percent of individuals between the ages of thirty and fifty is suffering from sciatica. Back pain may also be caused by a lumbar herniated disc but if this is not accompanied by pain in the leg, then there may a different cause.
The good news for those suffering from a lumbar herniated disc is that most patients, about eighty to ninety percent, get better even without surgery. Usually, the physician will recommend non-surgical options to treat the lumbar herniated disc such as short rest period, anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, physical therapy, exercises, and injection therapy.
Non-surgical treatments aim to reduce disc and nerve irritation and improve the patient’s physical condition in order to protect the patient’s spine and enhance general function. An organized treatment and care program combining a number of the abovementioned treatments is effective in treating the majority of lumbar herniated disc patients.
After a few weeks of non-surgical treatment, if the pain persists and hinders the patients from normal activities even after the completion of non-operative treatments, then the physician may recommend surgery.
It is important to note that the patient may not regain leg strength with surgery but it can prevent further weakness in the legs as well as relieve pain. In fact, surgical treatment is typically recommended in order to relieve leg pain but it is not as successful as relief for back pain.
After surgery, the doctor will recommend which activities are appropriate for the patient. Typically, the patient is asked to get out of bed and take a few steps around soon after the effects of anesthesia have worn out. Generally, patients are able to go home later on the same day of the surgery or within 24 hours following surgery. Once the patient is home, certain activities should be avoided such as bending forward, lifting heavy objects, sitting for a prolonged time and driving. Undergoing a rehabilitation program supervised by qualified professionals may benefit some patients. The physician will be able to help a patient decide whether exercise will be helpful in preventing the recurrence of a lumbar herniated disc.