Lumbar disc herniation is a painful condition and is one of the most common causes of lower back pain and sciatica. It occurs when the center of a disc pushes out against the exterior due to wear and tear or an acute injury. As one of the top providers of herniated disc surgery NJ has to offer, Dr. Joshua Rovner runs into this condition frequently.
For most people, a herniated disc begins with the same symptom: lower back pain. At the onset, the pain may last for a few days and then improve. However, eventually the discomfort will worsen and also cause leg pain, numbness and weakness. The most common symptoms of lumbar disc herniation include:
- Back pain
- Sciatica (leg, hip and back pain)
- Leg and foot weakness, numbness or a tingling sensation
- A loss of bladder or bowel control (very rare)
A herniated disc typically develops due to natural aging processes. As patients grow older, their discs dry out and weaken, and the spaces between their vertebrae continue to narrow. This is referred to as disc degeneration.
Additionally, there are certain lifestyle and congenital risk factors that increase an individual’s chances of suffering from a herniated disc. They include:
Gender. Lumbar disc herniation is more common among men, particularly those between 30 and 50 years of age.
Improper lifting. Lifting with your back, rather than your legs, can compromise your spine and is a common cause of a herniated disc.
Occupation. People with physically demanding jobs have a greater risk of all back problems, including lumbar disc herniation.
Sedentary lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle is a known risk factor for a herniated disc. It’s been shown that regular activity has a preventative effect and can keep your spine healthy.
Certain physical activities. Activities that require repetitive lifting, bending and twisting increase your risk of lumbar disc herniation and many other spinal conditions. Sitting for long periods of time, for example during a lengthy commute, also places harmful pressure on your spine.
Smoking. Smoking decreases oxygen supply to the discs, which can accelerate the process of degeneration.