Discogenic low back pain

Discogenic low back pain refers to the symptoms and pain of a damaged disc located within the lumbar (lower back) and sacral (pelvic) regions of the spine. Because the lumbar spine is located near the largest nerve in the body — the sciatic nerve — discogenic low back pain can often result in sciatica, which is the group of symptoms that develop when the sciatic nerve is compressed.

For many adults, lower back pain will be experienced at some point in life. Because the five lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5) are responsible for bearing much of the weight of the upper body — and the stress of its repeated movements — the discs in the lower back are under constant stress. This stress can cause a disc to bulge and rupture, possibly leading to pain in the disc itself, and also in surrounding areas if the damaged disc causes nerve compression in the spinal canal.

Lumbar spinal anatomy

The sciatic nerve usually begins just above the L1 vertebra and extends down through the spinal canal and into the buttocks, legs and feet. When this long nerve is irritated or compressed because of a herniated disc or other degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine, it can produce several potentially debilitating symptoms. The area of the lower body where these symptoms are experienced depends on the vertebral level of the nerve compression, as listed below:

  • L1 — Pain, numbness or loss of sensation in the thigh or groin area
  • L2 — Diminished strength in the hip flexor; pain, numbness or loss of sensation in the thighs
  • L3 — Diminished patellar reflex; pain, weakness or numbness in the thighs and quadriceps
  • L4 — Numbness or loss of feeling in the feet; diminished patellar tendon reflex; quadriceps weakness; pain in the legs
  • L5 — Numbness or loss of sensation in the feet or toes; weakness in the hips and legs

If, at any point, you lose bladder or bowel control, seek medical attention immediately.

Treating discogenic low back pain

For many patients, discogenic pain can be effectively treated with conservative methods of treatment. Once your physician determines the cause of your symptoms, you can work together to create the treatment regimen that will best fit your needs and lifestyle. The most common conservative treatments for discogenic pain include:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic care

If these treatments do not offer pain relief, you should contact Laser Spine Institute to ask about our minimally invasive spine surgery.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery is designed to help treat degenerative spine conditions, including discogenic low back pain and other conditions associated with the aging of the spine. Because we approach each surgery with minimally invasive techniques, our procedures are safer and more effective than traditional open back surgery. Many of our patients are recommended to undergo a decompression surgery to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve in the lower back. However, some patients may require a stabilization surgery to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve and add support to the spine.

To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a review of your MRI report or CT scan.