Nearly 10 million men and women suffer from lower back and leg pain caused by a herniated or ruptured disc.1 Herniated discs are painful and may leave you feeling helpless and unable to do everyday activities.
Your backbone is actually a stack of more than 30 bones called vertebrae. Between them are small, spongy discs that act as “shock absorbers” by preventing the vertebrae from colliding with each other when you move and keeping your spine flexible. When one of the discs is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc, which may also be referred to as a ruptured or slipped disc.
When a herniated disc pinches one of the 50 nerves that come out of the spinal cord, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness. The sciatic nerve, which runs from your spinal cord to your leg, is most likely to be affected.2 Compression or inflammation of the sciatic nerve causes a sharp, shooting pain in the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the leg. This is called sciatica, and it is the most common symptom of a lower back herniation.3
Symptoms or consequences
Leg pain symptoms
- Usually occurs in only one leg
- May start suddenly or gradually
- May be constant or may come and go
- May get worse when sneezing, coughing, or straining during bowel movements
- May be aggravated by sitting, prolonged standing, and bending or twisting
- Ting (“pins-and-needles” sensation) or numbness in one leg
- Weakness in one or both legs
- Pain in the front of the thigh
Everyday wear and tear can cause the intervertebral discs in your backbone to rupture or herniate over time. This is because as you age, your spinal discs lose some of their water content, making them less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist. Sudden heavy strain, traumatic injury, or “weekend warrior” overexertion can also herniate a disc. Many people describe this condition as a “slipped” disc. You can have a herniated disc in any part of your spine, but most occur in the lower back or lumbar.
Assessment and diagnosis
A herniated disc can adversely affect your ability to perform everyday activities. If your discomfort isn’t improving with conservative treatments such as bed rest, pain medication, stretching, cold and/or heat therapy, you may be helped by an outpatient procedure called Disc Decompression.
To help in diagnosis, a diagnostic imaging procedure called Discography can be used to help identify which discs are causing problems—helping your doctor prescribe the most effective treatment for relieving your pain.
These minimally invasive solutions complete the continuum of care for patients who haven't responded to conservative therapy but want an alternative to surgery. Discography facilitates diagnostic accuracy and aids in treatment planning, while disc decompression helps reduce pain, shorten recovery time, and return you to your previous levels of activity.14