What is a lumbar (lower back) herniated nucleus pulposus?

A lumbar herniated nucleus pulposus is a medical term that refers to a herniated disc in the lower back. This relatively common spine condition occurs when a spinal disc weakens and tears open, allowing some of the disc’s inner gel-like material to seep out into the spinal canal.

The lower back is especially susceptible to degeneration in general and herniated discs in particular. The reason is that the lumbar spine is subjected to significant wear and tear through daily movement — all while under the strain of supporting the majority of the body’s weight.

Is a herniated nucleus pulposus painful?

While a lumbar herniated nucleus pulposus might sound intimidating, it is not necessarily a cause for concern. The condition is not always painful, but pain may develop in the lower back if irritation and inflammation develop around the site of the injury. Potentially more problematic, however, is any related nerve compression. Displaced disc material that invades the spinal canal can easily put pressure on the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root. Because a compressed nerve can produce symptoms at any point along its pathway, discomfort can develop in distant areas of the body. The discomfort can take many forms, including:

  • Pain that radiates from the lower back through the buttocks, legs and feet
  • Numbness, tingling or burning sensations in the buttocks, legs and feet
  • Leg muscle weakness and spasms
  • Difficulty walking
  • Balance and coordination problems

Can a herniated nucleus pulposus be treated without surgery?

In many cases, herniated disc symptoms can be managed successfully with conservative treatments. Some potentially effective options include physical therapy, medications and injections. As a general rule of thumb, if severe discomfort persists or worsens after several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be an appropriate next step.

Laser Spine Institute takes a minimally invasive approach to spine surgery. Contact us to find out how we may be able to help you find relief from your herniated nucleus pulposus symptoms. We can provide you with a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure.

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