(Herniated Lumbar Disk)

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 Definition Abnormal movement of the material (disk) that helps support the bones of the lower back.
Details Disks are found between the bones of the back (vertebrae). They can at times push out of their normal position (herniate) and then cause symptoms.
Causes A slipped disk or herniation usually results from an twisting injury to the low back or may be due to several small sprains.
Diagnosis Typically, pain and spasm begin either immediately after an injury or develop within the 24 hours. The pain is made worse by activity and usually improves with rest. The pain may start in the lower back but also can radiate to the legs. This can be felt as a sharp or shooting pain down the leg into the knee, ankle or foot. It may be accompanied by either numbness or weakness. Initially x-rays may be taken to evalute the back. An MRI Scan or CT scan may also be ordered depending on the symptoms and physical examination.

Model and MRI of Normal and Slipped (Herniated) Disk

Model and MRI of Normal and Slipped (Herniated) Disk, Example 2
Treatment Nonoperative: Initially, icing and rest coupled with anti-inflammatory medication are important to relieve pain and spasm. Other medications may also be needed. This phase should be followed by education about proper lifting techniques and a back rehabilitation program. Stretching and strengthening of back, leg and abdominal muscles are important components of this rehabilitation program.

Operative: Surgery is indicated for patients with documented slipped (herniated) disks that demonstrate worsening of leg numbness or weakness, unrelenting leg pain or problems with bowel or bladder function. Any patient with significant symptoms such as these should seek the attention of a qualified physician for a complete evaluation.


Some slipped (herniated) disks can be avoided by maintaining excellent strength and flexilibility of the back, leg and abdominal muscles. Staying in good aerobic shape by walking, riding a bike, jogging or swimming also helps keep the back fit. Finally, learning proper lifting techniques may prevent some back injuries.