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What is a Lumbar Herniated Disc?

All of the bones that make up the spine are referred to as vertebral bodies. The lower end of your spine, the low back, is referred to as the lumbar spine. There are 5 lumbar vertebrae. When looked at from the side, the lumbar spine is concave. This is called lordosis.

In between each of the vertebrae in the spine lies an intervertebral disc. These discs are soft and malleable and, among other functions, allow for increased motion of the spine and act as shock absorbers. After an acute trauma, or more commonly a lifetime of poor posture or heavy lifting, one of those intervertebral discs may tear a bit or be deformed, causing pain in the back due to the disc itself being out of place or in more severe cases, the disc ruptures significantly and starts to puts pressure on the nerves located in or around the spinal canal.

What Causes a Lumbar Herniated Disc?

Poor posture is one of the main culprits that may lead to a lumbar herniated disc. Having a sedentary job, where the spine has been in a position of poor posture for hours every day can be very damaging to the spine. Sitting with poor posture stresses these discs and causes them to be deformed. The inside of the disc is a jelly like substance which is easily molded to the position that the bones are in. If the bones of the spine, the vertebrae, are in a poor position, so will be the discs.

Contrary to having a sedentary job, having a very active job with frequent bending, lifting, and carrying heavy objects can take a toll on your lumbar spine if you are not taught proper body mechanics when performing these activities.

A herniated disc in the lumbar spine can be no fault of your own however, and be caused by a high impact trauma such as a car accident or a sports-related injury

A pen pointing at herniated lumbar disc model

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Lumbar Disc Herniation Symptoms

Symptoms of disc herniations of the lumbar spine can be very confusing and misleading. This is because when a disc ruptures and affects the surrounding nerves in the spinal canal, the symptoms that you may experience may not be located in the back. With a lumbar ruptured disc, it is very common to experience pain, numbness, tingling or weakness and any location from the hips, butt, and in the leg and foot. The symptoms will most likely be experienced on one side of the body but can occur on both.

If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.
Sportsman feeling backache because of slipped disc

How to Prevent Lumbar Disc Herniation

The best way to prevent a lumbar herniated disc is to maintain proper posture at all times. The spine should look like a backwards ‘S.’ When looked at from the side, your spine from right beneath your skull to the tailbone should form a backwards ‘S.’ It should look like this at all times, whether you are seated or standing. A lot of people slouch when they sit. This makes the spine look like a ‘C.’ When the spine looks like a ‘C’ we say it is flexed. Some other methods of prevention of a lumbar herniated disc are:

  • Proper posture in sitting and standing
  • Learning proper body mechanics which involves learning to bend at the knees when lifting in or to keep the back straight and carrying a heavy load close to your body
  • Strength train all muscles of the posterior, especially the gluteal muscles
  • Maintaining flexibility in the spine with stretching the muscles of the back as well as all muscles of the body. A healthy spine is a flexible spine.

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Disclaimer: Please note all medical information contained within this website should never be interpreted as a diagnosis or recommendation of treatment. If a diagnosis is needed, contact Dr. Burke Orthopedics for a personalized consultation. Information shared in testimonials and reviews are specific to that particular patient and may not be representative of the experience of others.