Lumbar Disk Disorders—Symptoms and treatment options

Back pain is a very common health complaint. About 80% of people in the U.S. have experienced low back pain in their lifetime, and disk disorders are usually the cause. Lumbar disk disorders include degenerative disk disease, disk herniation, and infections. These disorders are caused by problems with the cushioning between the vertebrae in the lower back. Fortunately, many patients with low back pain can find relief if the problem is diagnosed.

Risk factors of lumbar disk disorders

  • Aging/natural wear and tear
  • Repetitive activities
  • Injury to back
  • Obesity
  • Genetics
  • Smoking

Common Symptoms

  • Pain often described as aching or stabbing
  • Increased pain with sitting, lifting, coughing
  • Pain that extends to groin, buttocks, limbs
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle weakness

Diagnosis

A physician will perform a physical examination to determine the cause of the pain and other symptoms. The painful region, as well as the patient’s strength, reflexes, and walking ability, will be evaluated. Following the physical exam, a blood test may be recommended to check for any whole-body infections, inflammatory diseases, or arthritis are involved. Then, imaging techniques may be utilized to diagnose lumbar disk disorders.

Treatment options

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS)
  • Rest
  • Physical therapy/ rehabilitation exercises
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery if other more conservative treatments are not successful

It’s important to address that, in the face of chronic pain, the presence of depression and other diseases should be monitored and addressed. Both the patient and his or her family should receive education about injury prevention, proper posture, proper lifting techniques, and the role of exercise in treatment.