Have you ever heard someone say they have a “slipped disc”, their “back went out”, or they have a “pinched nerve”? These concepts are often referring to a condition called a “disc lesion”. Today we are going to cover everything you need to know about lumbar (low back) disc lesions!
Your spine consists of 24 individual vertebrae stacked on top of each other, with flexible cushions called "discs" between each set of vertebrae. A disc is made up of two basic components: The inner disc, or “nucleus”, and the outer disc, or “annulus”. The term lumbar disc lesion means the disc has been damaged.
Disc lesions start when the outer fibers of the disc become strained. When enough outer fibers becomes strained, this can create a weak spot in the disc. When the disc is compressed after developing a weak spot, the outer fibers may "bulge" or "protrude". If enough fibers are damaged, the nucleus of the disc may "herniate" outward. Since the spinal cord and nerve roots live directly behind the disc, bulges that are accompanied by inflammation can create lower back pain. Too much inflammation can cause you to feel that pain in the buttock or the entire lower extremity, which is a condition called sciatica. If the disc bulge is significant enough to create a mechanical compression of your nerve, you may also experience loss of your reflexes and weakness. If you notice progressive weakness or numbness, any numbness around your groin, any loss of bowel or bladder control, or fever, please contact our office immediately. These symptoms mean condition has progressed to a serious level that needs addressed by a healthcare professional!
1/3 of the adult population have a bulged disc without knowing it, and are able to live their life without symptoms! Another 1/3 of adults will experience pain from a lumbar disc at some point in their lifetime. Most lumbar disc problems occur at one of the two lowest discs-L5 or L4, with symptoms starting at the lowest point of your back. Researchers have shown that disc bulges and sciatica may be successfully managed with conservative care like the type provided in our office. These treatments include joint manipulation, also known as chiropractic adjustments, therapy modalities, myofascial release, and therapeutic exercises. Our office also has a traction table, which is a specialized therapeutic table which helps to stretch your tight muscles and ligaments, improve nutrition to the discs, and increases available space in the openings where your spinal nerves exit.
At-home care is a large part of our care plans, including alterations to daily activities. For disc bulges, this includes sleeping posture recommendations and advice on getting in and out of bed. We also provide posture recommendations for both the work place and for lifting objects with a disc bulge. Our patients are also provided a Home Exercise Program to supplement our in-office care. These exercises are intended to increase mobility and movement tolerance to get you feeling better and stay feeling better.
If you or anyone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms, call our office (913-888-4845) and set up an appointment so we can help you get to feeling better! Special thanks to our partners ChiroUp for providing the framework to today’s blog and assisting us in delivering our patient care.