Back pain is extremely common. One source of this pain may result from a prolapsed lumbar disc, or herniated disc. It is often caused by deterioration from aging and affects people in mid-life. A prolapsed lumbar disc can occur anywhere in the lower back, especially in the region where the spine supports the weight of the body. With age, discs lose elasticity. This creates pressure in the gel center. With time, a disc tears and the gel pushes into the spinal column. The end result is a prolapsed disc that causes a great deal of pain.
Symptoms of a Disc Herniation
Even though a prolapse may go undetected, it often brings pain and other symptoms. For example, a person may feel a numbness or tingling in the big toe, ankle, or sole of the foot. It is also common to develop sciatica, pain that starts at the hips or buttocks and continues down the leg. This condition commonly occurs as a herniated disc pushes on the root of the sciatic nerve.
Treatments for Low Pack Pain Caused by a Herniated Disc
A common low back pain treatment option is an epidural steroid injection. For decades, this treatment has helped eliminate sciatic or low back pain without surgery. It is often combined with rehabilitation for optimum results. Many patients experience relief with this treatment option. This type of injection delivers a steroid directly into the spine and acts like an anti inflammatory. As inflammation is decreased, pain from sciatica or a lumbar disc herniation is less bothersome. Although the effects are not permanent, relief may last up to one year. This greatly enhances a person’s quality of life and eliminates the need to rely on prescription painkillers. It is important to recognize the risks associated with this procedure. Although side effects are rare, any invasive treatment brings possible complications. For instance, infection, bleeding, or nerve damage may occur. Also, there is a risk for a dural puncture, which causes a severe headache.
Another treatment for a prolapsed disc is spinal cord stimulation. This produces a set of electrical impulses to the nerves in the spinal cord. These interfere with the nerve impulses causing back pain. Nerve stimulation includes a two step process. To begin, a temporary electrode is placed beneath the skin as a trial. If pain is alleviated, a permanent electrode is implanted. Following the outpatient procedure, a patient is instructed how to use the stimulator, and it is adjusted to the correct pulse strength. Side effects are minimal and include a slight tingling sensation. Certain research concludes that over half of patients who receive this procedure for low back pain gain relief. The possible risks of this treatment include infection, headaches, bladder problems, and a tolerance over time.
Percutaneous Discectomy is a surgical procedure where a small incision is made to remove disc material causing pressure on the spine. This outpatient procedure is often performed after other treatments are unsuccessful. Many patients with large, contained herniated lumbar discs find some pain relief following treatment. During recovery, patients cannot lift anything heavy or perform strenuous exercise for a set period of time. It is much less invasive that other disc surgeries, so the body undergoes little trauma. Potential risks include infection, nerve damage, or bleeding. However, there is extremely low risks of severe complications.
When a person is experiencing back pain, especially from a prolapsed lumbar disc, there are numerous ways to relieve the discomfort. The above procedures are the most popular forms of relief. When pain has been eliminated, it is possible to get back to normal activities. It is important to consult with a personal physician for more information.