By Dr. Virginia Nsitem
PRIDE Pain Specialist
Injury to the disc and other structures in the low back can cause leg numbness, tingling, and pain. This article will discuss low back disc injuries.
Spinal discs and nerves
The discs connect the vertebrae (spinal bones) and act as shock absorbers in the spine. They also assist with movement between the vertebrae. Ligaments attach to the front and back of the discs and support their connection to the spinal bones. The spinal bones and discs help form the canal for the spinal nerves to exit.
Low back disc bulge and herniation
Injury to the discs can occur from degeneration (wear and tear), poor posture or body mechanics, repetitive stress injuries (repetitive bending, twisting, and lifting), and trauma. A bulging disc has no damage to the outer layers of the disc – it just protrudes or bulges out of its normal space. A herniated disc has damage to the outer layers – a tear or rupture to the disc. Having a bulging disc or herniated disc does not necessarily mean that you will have low back pain!
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
The most common symptoms of disc injury in the lumbar spine include:
- low back pain
- sciatica (shooting pain down the leg to the foot)
- numbness and tingling in the leg down to the foot
- leg and/or foot weakness
Emergency symptoms may include loss of bowel and/or bladder control.
What treatments are helpful?
The first step to stopping the pain is getting a proper diagnosis. It is important to see your chiropractor or physician for a full evaluation. You may be referred for follow-up tests such as a CT scan or MRI to determine the extent of disc injury and nerve compression. Your therapy program may include pain control (ice
and pain medication), Laser therapy for pain relief and healing, traction to reduce the pressure on the nerves, chiropractic adjustments, a specific exercise program (stretches, strengthening, and core exercises), and advice on proper posture. The good news is that most cases of disc injuries can be treated conservatively with relief after 4-8 weeks of treatment.
Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences in Canada. She may be reached at (905) 275-4993, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.