Lumbar torn disc

A lumbar torn disc occurs when a spinal disc located in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine tears, releasing the jellylike inner material into the spinal canal. A torn disc may also be referred to as a ruptured or herniated disc.


There are several reasons why a lumbar torn disc can occur, but possibly the biggest factor is age. The discs in the spine, cushioning the vertebrae and allowing for movement, begin to deteriorate as we grow older. The exterior wall of the disc is a tough layer of cartilage and the interior is filled with soft jellylike material. The discs dry out over time while the surrounding vertebrae put pressure on them. This pressure can cause the center to push into the outer wall. The material might then cause the exterior wall to bulge into the spinal canal, causing a bulging disc. A torn disc forms when the wall tears or cracks, and the center leaks into the spinal canal. Being overweight, standing and sitting with poor posture and smoking can all speed up this process. Besides aging, other causes of a lumbar torn disc may include sustaining a traumatic injury to the neck or back.

Is a lumbar torn disc painful?

A lumbar torn disc may not be painful. In fact, many people have a bulging or herniated disc and never exhibit symptoms. However, pain, weakness, numbness, muscle spasms and tingling may develop if the torn disc impinges upon, or compresses, the spinal cord or a nerve root in the lumbar region.

Sciatica is a common condition resulting from lumbar nerve compression. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It begins at the base of the spinal cord and branches off on either side of the body, running past the buttocks and down the legs. A lumbar torn disc may impinge upon the sciatic nerve, causing shooting pains when aggravated, with tingling, weakness, cramping and numbness radiating down the leg and into the foot. Symptoms typically affect one side or the other, but can appear in both legs.


There are plenty of conservative treatments for a lumbar torn disc, including rest, cold and heat therapy, physical therapy and pain medication. Consult with your physician to develop a personalized treatment plan. However, if you’re experiencing pain and these treatments have done little to relieve your symptoms over the course of at least a few weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our minimally invasive, outpatient surgeries may be able to help you find meaningful relief from your pain. We offer both minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgeries that have been proven to treat lumbar torn discs without the highly invasive nature and lengthy recoveries of traditional open back surgery. Contact us today to speak to one of our Spine Care Consultants who can tell you more about these benefits and how you may be a candidate.