A lumbar herniated disc injury is a very common experience, since the lower back is the single most likely location for a trauma-induced bulging disc to occur. Lumbar discs must endure constant stress and strain, since they are required to expand and contract often, typically under considerable loads. This makes them the main target for degenerative disc disease and subsequent herniations.
Although most disc bulges in the lower back result from normal spinal aging, some occur spontaneously from traumatic injury. These are the types of herniation most likely to produce pain and related neurological symptoms. However, it should be noted that research clearly states that most disc herniations will not produce chronic pain, although in some unfortunate circumstances, lasting symptoms may indeed result.
This article will detail the expectations for a lumbar
injury which has affected one or more intervertebral structures. We
will also explore why injury occurs in the lower back and the prognosis
for recovery for most patients.
When significant force is applied to the lower back, the discs will often be the first spinal structures to buckle. The discs are softer and more pliable than the vertebral bones and they bear the majority of pressure which accumulates in the lumbar region. It is common for lumbar herniated disc injuries to occur from car accidents, falls and sporting traumas.
In many scenarios, a herniation may already exist unbeknownst to the patient, since it does not produce any symptomatic expression. In these cases, the new injury is often blamed for causing the herniation, although degenerative evidence in the spine may tell otherwise. This is something that I witnessed countless times during litigation in my former career as a trial preparation investigator.
In cases when the new injury actually does cause a spontaneous herniation, there is likely to be pain from the trauma inflicted on all the surrounding spinal tissues, not just the disc. Remember that discs themselves do not have nerve endings and do not feel pain.
Most lower back injuries will resolve in several days to several weeks, even without any special treatment. Actually, European studies for lower back injuries show that most patients who seek no treatment at all get better faster and more completely than patients who pursue any type of professional care. Can you believe this? It might change your perception of disc pathologies forever.
The body is designed to heal as its main objective and heal it should. The common thought that disc herniations can produce long-term treatment-resistant pain is basically illogical in most cases, but this is the public belief, mostly due to the nocebo effect of the diagnosis.
This is not to say that long lasting symptoms can not result, for they can. However, since discs can only enact symptoms through neurological tissue interactions, the likelihood of chronic pain existing, compared to the more logical expressions of weakness and numbness, is rather low.
Injuring your lower back can be a very scary ordeal. Just remember to learn the truths about herniated discs and not be persuaded into some inappropriate and ridiculous treatment regimen for a condition which might not even be causing your pain. This was the mistake I made a long time ago and it took me decades to rectify it. If your lower back herniated disc pain does not resolve quickly, or with indicated therapy, do yourself a big favor and seriously consider that the source of your symptoms may well have been misdiagnosed. It happens to millions every day and accounts for the dreadfully awful curative statistics for most types of back and neck pain therapies.
For patients who demonstrate the rare serious disc pathologies which are definitively causative, be sure to research all your therapy options before selecting one in particular. Offerings such as spinal decompression may be able to resolve even the worst bulging discs without surgical intervention. Even if you do decide on an operation, investigate minimally invasive herniated disc surgery as the best path to symptomatic resolution.