Avoid Back Surgery and Get Ahead of Low Back, Disc Problems and Pain and Numbness Radiating Into the Leg

Avoid Back Surgery and Get Ahead of Low Back, Disc Problems and Pain and Numbness Radiating Into the Leg

About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives and it’s the most common cause of job-related disability. In one comprehensive survey, more than one out of four adults reported low back pain in the last three months. Intervertebral disc degeneration is one of the most common mechanical causes of low back pain most often occurring as a result of aging causing the rubbery discs to lose integrity. As the discs degenerate, they lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae in the spine which in turn provides height to the body and allows it to bend and flex from the lower back position.

The spinal column is made up of a series of bones (vertebrae) stacked onto each other and cushioned by discs which serve to protect the bones as they absorb shock from daily activities such as walking, lifting, and twisting.

Each disc is comprised of a soft gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. An injury or weakness can cause the inner contents of disc to protrude through the outer ring (like squeezing the jelly from a jelly doughnut). When the gel-like nucleus ruptures through a tear in the disc wall and touches a nerve, pain ensues. When this bulging or herniation occurs, we have what is called a bulged, protruded or herniated disc causing great pain and discomfort. Should the “slipped disc” compress one of the spinal nerves, numbness and pain along the affected nerve result.

The lower back is one of the more common areas where slipped discs occur. Advancing age makes us more susceptible to disc problems and especially slipping because our discs lose protective water content as we age. Motions like twisting or turning and lifting a heavy object can cause a herniated disc. Overweight people are at increased risk for disc problems because their discs are forced to support additional weight. A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical exercise and fitness leads to weak muscles which are more prone to developing disc problems with what we term at Wagner Chiropractic as a movement disorder, long-term weakening of muscles and ligaments in the low back.

The spinal column is a truly an intricate network of nerves and blood vessels. When a slipping of a disc occurs, it places more pressure on the nerves and muscles around it.

Symptoms of a bulged, protruded or herniated disc of the low back include:

  • pain and numbness, most commonly on both sides of the body and which goes down both legs

  • pain that worsens at night or with certain movements described as a grabbing sharp pain

  • pain that becomes more acute after standing or sitting

  • unexplained muscle weakness and a leg “giving out"

  • tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area

If you have a herniated disc in the lower back region, you may feel pain radiating down one or both legs and even into your feet. When you’re standing, walking or sitting you may feel an electric-shock-like pain and other physical activities like bending, twisting, sitting and lifting may tend to increase the pain.

In addition to possible numbness and tingling in a leg or foot, cramping or muscle spasms in the back or leg, leg muscle weakness, and knee or ankle reflex loss are additional possible effects of disc problems. If the disc issue is severe, foot drop (the foot involuntarily flops when walking) or loss of bowel or bladder control can occur.

If mild disc problems go away or are ignored the body will “protect” the area by causing degenerative changes to the disc and bony changes of the vertebra. Mild disc problems escalate over time to worsen herniations and many end up in surgery because the pain is so bad. At Wagner Chiropractic, we successfully treat patients with low back pain and disc problems with non-surgical spinal decompression, laser therapy(2), physical therapy–both passive and interferential current therapy(3), and active rehabilitation of stabilizing muscles of the spine. Dr. Wagner is nationally certified in spinal decompression therapy by Parker University and she is a member of the International Disc Education Association and Disc Centers of America.

Call us today to be evaluated for your back problem. When it comes to serious disc problems we treat them seriously. Our goal is to stop more back surgeries.

Smoking has the potential to damage tissue in the lower back by impeding circulation thereby reducing the much needed flow of nutrients to joints and muscles.

  1. sometimes also referred to as low level light therapy or photobiomodulation (PBM)–a low intensity light therapy

  2. stimulates muscles to help relieve deep tissue pain through penetration that can be adjusted to stimulate nerve fibers for increased blood flow

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Endnote:

“Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet