This article will discuss what a lumbar disc is, the most common conditions that can develop, symptoms associated with it, and the most common treatments recommended if you have a lumbar disc problem develop.
A lumbar disc is a spinal disc located in the lower back. The discs of the spine are like cushions that separate each set of bones in the back. They are incredibly important, because not only do they act as shock absorbers when you move, they prevent the bones from rubbing together, which would be very painful.
Each disc is composed of a strong outer covering (called the annulus), and a soft jelly center (called the nucleus). For lack of a better comparison, they look a lot like a jelly doughnut with the way they're made.
The two most common conditions that can occur with a lumbar disc are a bulging disc and degenerative disc disease. Let's discuss both conditions, and then we'll talk about symptoms and treatments, because they're very similar for both conditions.
A bulging disc occurs when the outer covering of the disc becomes weak and tears, causing the jelly in the center of the disc to begin to push into the weak area. This creates a bulge in the disc, which is where this condition gets its name.
This condition is also commonly referred to as a herniated disc or a slipped disc. This condition can be extremely painful because the spinal nerves are located directly behind the discs of the spine, and when a disc bulges, it tends to apply pressure on one of these nerves.
The nerves of the spine are very sensitive, and will cause a person to experience severe pain. What's even more important, though, is that these nerves control everything in the body, so whatever the affected nerve controls will also begin to malfunction.
I'll go into further detail about the symptoms this can cause in just a moment, but let's first discuss what degenerative disc disease is, because the symptoms are very similar.
Degenerative disc disease occurs when the jelly in the center of the disc dehydrates (loses water). This tends to occur with age and overuse of the discs. The real seriousness of this condition is that the disc will flatten when this condition occurs, which also applies pressure to the nerves.
The symptoms that occur with lumbar disc conditions will include low back pain, pain in the hips and legs, weakness in the legs, numbness in the feet, sciatic pain (pain shooting down the leg), as well as bowel and bladder problems.
Many people ask how they can tell the difference between a bulging disc and degenerative disc disease, since the symptoms are so similar. Degenerative disc disease is actually a form of arthritis in the spine, so one of the key characteristics of this condition is that the symptoms will tend to be worse when you first wake up in the morning.
Just like with any form of arthritis, when you've been still for a long period of time (such as when sleeping), the affected area becomes stiff and aggravated. Once you move for a short period, and loosen the area up, it tends to feel better.
With a bulging disc, this is not the case. The symptoms will tend to get worse with certain activities, or it will be constant throughout the day.
The cause of these conditions is also very different. Usually a bulging disc / herniated disc will occur with some form of trauma (such as a car accident or lifting something heavy), and it is usually easy to pinpoint some activity that initiated the problem.
Because degenerative disc disease is a form of arthritis, it usually develops slowly over a period of years. The symptoms will usually begin gradually over a period of time, and it is difficult to define a specific event that caused the problem to begin.
With any lumbar disc condition, the treatments available are very similar. Most physicians will recommend medications (usually muscle relaxers and pain killers), physical therapy, pain injections (such as cortisone and epidurals), and surgery as a last resort.
However, the success rates of these treatments are not very high. The reason for this is because they all are designed to numb the affected nerves, which sounds good on the surface, but this is only a temporary solution because they are not doing anything to actually heal the source of the problem which is the disc condition.
There are other treatments that I have found to be more effective with lumbar disc conditions, but in all actuality, it's a combination of treatments that are necessary to actually heal a damaged disc, no matter what the condition is.
If you would like to learn more about the most effective treatments available for lumbar disc conditions, as well as the combination of treatments that I have found to be the most successful, you can visit HealYourBulgingDisc.com for the full details.
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