The individual vertebrae of the spine are separated by a flexible round disc that allows free movement and flexibility in the spinal column. The discs consist of a solid outer layer that is filled with a type of gel, and when the outer layer is breached, some of the gel can escape.
This gel can irritate nerves along the spinal cord and cause symptoms that far outreach the area of the injury. A "slipped" disc in the lumbar (lower) spine, in particular, can cause symptoms through the lower body.
Herniated or bulging disc treatment services will vary according to the severity of both the symptoms and the herniation as well as the source of the injury.
What Are the Symptoms of a Bulging Disc in the Lumbar Spine?
A herniated disc in the lower spine can cause excruciating pain in the lower back, severely limiting mobility. However, pain, numbness, and weakness may also be experienced in the feet, legs, and buttocks because of irritation of the sciatic nerves travel from the base of the spine to the feet.
If the herniated disc is caused by a traumatic event or severe deterioration, symptoms may not recede for several weeks. Cumulative damage from age, genetic factors, and lifestyle may cause symptoms to appear and recede for shorter periods.
What Are the Causes of Bulging Discs in the Lower Spine?
Accidents can cause a disc to rupture from a sudden violent wrenching of the spine. Genetic flaws may lead to greater risks of spinal discs drying out prematurely, which causes normally pliable discs to become brittle and fragile. Aging will also cause discs to become dry over time, leading to a greater probability of ruptures.
However, lifestyle can play an important role in disc herniation. Sedentary individuals, particularly those who are overweight with excess stomach fat, place an enormous burden on their lower spine. Excessive sitting, especially with poor posture, accentuates the burden on the lower spine.
What Are the Treatments for a Bulging Disc in the Lumbar Spine?
Rest is often sufficient for mild symptoms such as moderate back and leg pain or numbness in the legs or feet. A visit to a chiropractor can ensure the lumbar spinal vertebra are properly aligned, which will relieve stress on surrounding nerve clusters and vulnerable spinal discs.
A chiropractor can also provide guidance for weight loss, abdominal strengthening, and proper posture for those affected by lifestyle factors.
Some cases of disc herniation will eventually require surgery to remove the damaged disc(s) and possibly fuse the spinal vertebra in the injured areas, but most cases will respond to the more conservative treatments.