Seven common symptoms of a torn disc in the lower back

A torn disc in the lower back can be very painful. But, it can also be completely symptom free. It all depends on the location of the damage and, more specifically, the spinal nerves involved (if any).

Essentially, a torn disc occurs when the firm outer border of a disc becomes damaged to the point that it breaks open. A relatively minor disc tear may not cause any discomfort early on. However, if the tear gets progressively worse, it can allow some of the disc’s inner gelatinous fluid to seep out into the spinal canal. There, the displaced disc material can potentially come in contact with the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root. An irritated or compressed nerve can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms — or none at all.

What might it feel like to have a torn disc in your lower back?

If a torn disc in the lower back does cause symptoms, the discomfort can sometimes take the form of:

  1. Pain in the lumbar spine (near the damaged disc)
  2. Pain that travels from the lower back through a buttock, leg and foot
  3. Numbness or tingling sensations in a leg and foot
  4. Muscle spasms in a leg
  5. Sciatica
  6. Loss of balance and coordination
  7. Difficulty walking

Does a torn disc require surgical treatment?

Torn discs are very common, mainly because they often result from age-related degenerative changes in the spine. If you’ve been diagnosed with a torn disc in the lower back, you probably sought medical attention because you were experiencing disruptive symptoms. In many cases, the discomfort caused by a torn disc resolves on its own (or with conservative treatment) within approximately three months. If yours hasn’t, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our team can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^