(Disk, Herniated; Herniation of Nucleus Pulposus [HNP]; Prolapsed Disc; Ruptured Disc; Slipped Disc)
|Herniated Lumbar Disc|
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- May be sharp, dull, piercing, aching, burning, or throbbing, depending on the disc and size of herniation
- May spread over the back, buttocks, down the back of one thigh, and into the calf
- May be in one leg or both legs
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs, feet, or in one or both arms
- In severe cases, inability to find comfort even lying down
- Sudden aching or twisted neck that cannot be straightened without severe pain
Cauda equina syndrome—involves bowel or bladder changes and/or numbness in the groin
- Note:—This is an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Back or neck massage and physical therapy to:
- Relax the neck or back muscles
- Decrease pain
- Increase strength and mobility
- Back and abdominal exercises
- Hot or cold packs to reduce pain and muscle spasms
- Chiropractic care
- Using weights and pulleys to relieve pressure on the discs and keep you from moving around
- A neck collar or brace for a herniated disc in the neck to relieve muscle spasms
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers
- Muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms
Interventional Spine Care
- Steroid injections into the area around the nerve and disc to reduce pain and inflammation; the injections are used if other medications do not work
Minimally invasive procedures may include:
- Intradiscal electrothermy (IDET)
- Laminectomy—removal of some of the bone over the spine and of the problem disc
- Microdiscectomy—removal of fragments of herniated disc through a small incision; this procedure is also known as intervertebral discectomy
- Spinal fusion—fusing of vertebrae together with bone grafts or metal rods; this is rarely done for first-time disc problems
- Practice good posture. Stand and sit straight, and keep your back straight when lifting.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly. Ask your doctor about exercises to strengthen your back and stomach.
- Don't wear high-heeled shoes.
- If you sit for long periods of time, use a stool to bring your knees above your hips.
North American Spine Society http://www.spine.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Awad JN, Moskovich R. Lumbar disc herniations: Surgical versus nonsurgical treatment. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2006;443:183-197.
Humphreys CS. Clinical evaluation and treatment options for herniated lumbar disc. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(3):575-582.
Lumbar disk herniation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 26, 2014. Accessed December 18, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 11/22/2013 -