Understanding lumbar discogenic pain

Lumbar discogenic pain refers to pain that originates in the lower back and is due to an issue in one or more spinal discs. Because the lower back supports nearly half of the body’s weight and provides most of the spine’s flexibility, lower back problems are extremely common.

If your life has been severely affected by lower back pain related to a spinal disc, there is treatment out there that can help you get back to a full life. Patient education is important and understanding more about how the lumbar spine functions will help you and your physician better approach lower back pain.

The anatomy of lumbar discogenic pain

The two main components of the spinal structure are the stacked vertebrae and the spinal discs that cushion them and allow for basic movement. Each disc is made of two components: an outer disc wall and an inner gel-like substance. Gradual degradation of discs — sometimes called degenerative discogenic disease — causes them to lose strength and elasticity, which can lead to lumbar discogenic pain causes such as the following:

  • Herniated discs — caused by a tear in the disc wall and extrusion of the center into the spinal canal, causing nerve compression.
  • Bulging discs — the disc’s inner cores, which is under constant strain, presses on the disc’s annulus wall, causing it to bulge or protrude into the spinal canal.
  • Internal disc disruption — the innermost layer of the wall tears and the protein-laden nucleus pulposus irritates the nerves in the disc’s wall. This also causes the collagen content of the disc wall to break down.

Symptoms of discogenic pain

Pain due to discogenic changes and neural compression in the lower back can take several forms. One of the most common is sciatica, which results from compression of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that travels from the lower back, through the pelvis, down each leg and to the feet. Sciatica is a type of radiculopathy, which is pain and other symptoms that follow the course of a nerve. Sciatica begins in the lower back, but the symptoms course through the buttocks, legs and feet. In addition to pain, symptoms such as tingling, numbness and weakness can also occur.

Treating lumbar discogenic pain

If your discogenic pain persists after three or more months of conservative pain relief treatment, such as physical therapy and medication, you might begin to consider spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery treats disc pain with less complication and without the lengthy recovery periods^ of traditional open spine operations.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.