Lumbar disc herniation also known as slipped or ruptured diskis one of the most common causes of low back pain, as well as leg pain. It is a condition in which the inner gelatinous substance of the disc escapes through a tear in the outer, fibrous ring causing a compression of the spinal cord or the surrounding nerves.
What is Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Lumbar refers to the low back region. Nerve roots exit the back to enter the legs. Nerve roots branch out from the spinal cord and carry messages to and from the brain and the lower extremities and pelvis. If one of these roots is sick or injured in the area where it leaves the spine, it is called a radiculopathy. Symptoms usually arise in people between the ages of 30 and 50 and may follow an injury or occur with no warning. Sciatica is pain that radiates from the back down the back of the leg, and is a common manifestation of lumbar radiculopathy. Other common symptoms are numbness and tingling of the leg or foot, weakness, and muscle spasms. 80% to 90% of patients with sciatica recover without surgery.
What causes Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Many disease states can cause lumbar radiculopathy, but most often it is a structural problem like a herniated disc, bone spur, or mechanical stretching or traumatic event. Discs may be damaged from strenuous activity, a congenital defect, or by injury. When the disc is damaged, material in the disc leaks and squeezes the nerve root. This can cause the numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness.
How is Lumbar Radiculopathy diagnosed?
After the initial examination, the diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy can be supported by electrodiagnosis, MRI, CT scans, and/or contrast myelography. Treatment of lumbar radiculopathy will vary depending on the actual cause of the radiculopathy. These treatments can include the use of back supports, medication, physical therapy, steroid injection in the spine, and even surgery.
Used with permission by AANEM
Click on the topics below to find out more from the Orthopaedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
- Spine Basics
- Herniated Disk
- Herniated Disk in the Lower Back
- Low Back Pain
- Adult Spondylolisthesis in the Low Back
- Low Back Pain
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
- Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis
- Low Back Pain Exercise Guide
- Spinal Injections
- Spine Conditioning Program
- Treatment Options for Low Back Pain (video)
- Backpack Safety
- Preventing Back Pain at Work and at Home
- Preventing Back Pain: Tips for New Moms
- Muscle Cramp