Lumbar (lower back) herniated disc — overview and treatment options

A herniated disc occurs when a disc in between two vertebrae becomes compressed and breaks, causing the inner gel from the disc to leak into the spinal canal and impact a nerve. One of the most common locations for a herniated disc is in the lumbar spine (lower back).

Patients diagnosed with a herniated disc in the lumbar spine may experience local pain in the lower back, as well as radiating pain in the buttock and leg. Severe cases of herniated disc in the lower back can cause the foot on the impacted side to experience numbness or tingling. If you are experiencing these symptoms and have not been diagnosed with a herniated disc, you should consult your physician to determine the cause of your symptoms. Your physician may order an MRI test to diagnose your spine condition and to recommend treatment for pain relief.

As you continue to research herniated discs in the lumbar spine and the treatment options available for this condition, we encourage you to reach out to our Care Team for more information. We want to help guide you through your treatment options so you can make the best decision for your spine care needs.

Causes of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine

The lumbar spine is a common location for herniated discs caused by injury or natural degeneration of the spine. The lumbar spine is responsible for supporting the body’s weight and allowing the body’s flexibility and mobility. As the years go by and the body’s weight increases, the vertebrae in the spinal cord have to support more weight. These vertebrae become compressed under the added body weight, causing the disc in between each vertebra to flatten and stretch. Imagine slowly pressing a piece of molding clay between your hands; this is how the disc is being compressed between the vertebrae.

As the vertebrae continue to compress, the hard outer shell of the disc may break, allowing the jellylike fluid inside the disc to leak into the spinal canal. If the fluid impacts a nerve root in the spinal canal, the patient may experience severe, chronic pain. If the herniated disc is located in the lowest part of the lumbar and impacts the sciatic nerve at the bottom of your spine, the symptoms are commonly referred to as sciatica.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a herniated disc in your lumbar spine or symptoms of sciatica, you should consult your physician about treatment options to help relieve your pain. There are several options available to you to treat mild to severe herniated discs.

Treatment options for a lumbar herniated disc

Patients with mild herniated discs may find pain relief through conservative methods of treatment. The most common conservative treatment options include chiropractic care and physical therapy, among other treatment options. While these therapies work well for some mild conditions, not everyone finds lasting relief from conservative therapy.

If you have tried conservative treatments for a significant amount of time and have not found any lasting pain relief, it may be time for you to consider a surgical treatment for your lumbar herniated disc.

For most patients, back surgery is considered a “last resort” treatment option. With the statistics and risks surrounding traditional open back surgery, we understand why patients are hesitant to move forward with this option. Fortunately, there are other surgical treatment options than traditional open back surgery. Laser Spine Institute offers a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery with our minimally invasive spine surgery.

We offer two types of surgery to treat a lumbar herniated disc: minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. The type of surgery performed will be determined by the severity of the condition. Milder instances of a lumbar herniated disc will most likely be treated with a discectomy procedure, which is one of our minimally invasive decompression surgeries. In this procedure, part of the herniated disc will be removed to decompress the nerve in the spinal canal. The surgery will be performed through a small 1-inch incision.

If the herniated disc is more severe, you may be required to undergo a minimally invasive stabilization surgery. This type of surgery, also performed through a small incision, removes the entire herniated disc and inserts an implant in the empty disc space to stabilize the spine.

As you continue to research the treatment options available for your lumbar herniated disc, we encourage you to look at all of our resources and contact our Care Team with any questions. You can view our patient testimonials and FAQ section to learn more about our superior results, or you can look at our streamlined patient experience so you know what to expect during your time with us. We believe that you should have the opportunity to learn about your spine condition and the treatment options available to you so you can make the best decision for your spine care needs.

Browse Related Resources