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Lumbar Disc Herniation

Lumbar discs are gel-filled cushions that function as shock absorbers between the bony vertebrae. Wear-and-tear changes to the discs can lead to bulging or rupture (herniation). Disc bulges can be found in most adults and usually cause no pain. However, significant disc herniations can compress the lumbar nerves, causing leg pain, numbness and/or weakness (lumbar radiculopathy or lumbar spinal stenosis).

Causes

Lumbar disc herniations are usually caused by age-related degeneration of the discs. Genetic predisposition, obesity and smoking increase the risk of developing pain from lumbar disc herniations.

Symptoms

  • Low back and/or buttock/thigh pain
  • Low back stiffness
  • Muscle spasms

Treatment

Low back pain from lumbar disc herniation is usually treated by over-the-counter pain medications, weight loss, and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary to treat radiculopathy.

Schedule an Appointment

Please call 984-974-4200 to schedule an appointment at the UNC Spine Center. Referrals are not necessary.

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