A lumbar bulging disc is a bulging disc located in the lower portion of the spine. Because of the location of the disc bulge, symptoms are typically felt in the low back, buttocks, legs, and feet.
True to its name, a lumbar bulging disc occurs in the lumbar area of the spine. The lumbar spine has five bones, or vertebrae, which are labeled L1-L5 (although some people have six lumbar vertebrae). Roughly speaking, the lumbar vertebrae span from the waist to the top of the hips. Sometimes, the symptoms of a lumbar bulging disc are related to impingement of the sciatic nerve—a nerve fiber that begins in the lower back and travels through the buttocks and legs. In these cases the condition is referred to as sciatica.
Interestingly, lumbar bulging discs account for the vast majority of bulging disc cases. There are several reasons why the lumbar region of the spine is vulnerable to bulging discs, such as:
- The lumbar region bears the bulk of the body’s weight.
- It can be easily strained and injured when lifting heavy objects, particularly if improper techniques are used.
- It is common for this area to receive direct trauma due to falls, car accidents, and participation in sports.
- Lumbar discs endure a lot of wear-and-tear over the years, plus they are prone to breaking down and weakening as we age.
In addition to age, other risk factors for a lumbar bulging disc include a history of back injuries, a job that requires heavy lifting, lack of exercise, and being overweight. Being a smoker also may increase your chances of disc injury.
If you are diagnosed with a lumbar bulging disc, chances are it will heal on its own within about 6 months. Your doctor may prescribe rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy to ease your symptoms. In about 10 percent of cases, symptoms are severe and lasting, leading a doctor to recommend an open-back surgery such as discectomy.
Laser Spine Institute offers several outpatient, minimally invasive procedures—such as percutaneous endoscopic discectomy—for the treatment of lumbar bulging disc and many other conditions. Please contact us for more information. We will be happy to provide you with a free MRI or CT scan review.