Spine Archive: Lumbar Disk Degeneration

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Microdiscectomy & Sciatica

Want to find out more about sciatica and surgical intervention? Search here in Dr. Anthony Leone’s Knowledge Center.

The sciatic nerve runs down both legs from the lower back. Radiating pain can manifest along this nerve resulting in sciatica. In cases where this pain is a result of a lumbar disc degeneration, a microdiscectomy is an option. In a microdiscectomy, a small opening is made and a portion of the herniated disc is removed – relieving the pinched nerve. Typically, this surgery is recommended after non-invasive or non-surgical means have failed within a time period of about 4 to 6 weeks or otherwise determined by the doctor.

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What is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Lumbar spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spine. To learn more about this and other spinal complications, search the Knowledge Center of Dr. Leone.

Low back pain can be a result of something called lumbar spinal stenosis. this condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal or one or more of the vertebra in the spine. When this narrowing occurs, the spinal cord and nerves become compressed causing (sometimes) severe pain in the lower back and legs. Sometimes numbness can also develop.

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Microdiscectomy Surgery

To learn more about spine surgery, search here in the Knowledge Center or contact Dr. Anthony Leone.

During a microdiscectomy, a small incision is made and a small portion(s) of the problem area of the disc is removed – relieving pressure and promoting a healthy healing environment. This surgical procedure can greatly improve lower back pain related to disc herniations.

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Causes of Lumbar Disc Degeneration

Wish to learn even more about disc degeneration? Search the Knowledge Center for more information.

There are two primary causes of lumbar disc degeneration. Sometimes these causes are a result of one or both of them together. The first is instability which happens when the spinal discs are worn and can no longer cushion pressure on the spine. This instability leads to movement along the vertebra which in turn results in pain. The second cause is inflammation surrounding the discs, especially the nerves. Together, these complications can cause intense lumbar pain.

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Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

Want to learn more about how lower back pain is caused and what contributes to it? Find out more here in Dr. Leone’s Knowledge Center.

In older adults the common causes of lower back pain involving the lumbar region of the spine are attributed to compression fractures or disc degeneration like osteoarthritis. In younger patients, back pain is more likely to be concentrated to the spacing between the discs via degenerative disc disease or a disc herniation. Sometimes back pain can even be the result of strains within the back muscles and other soft tissues located in or around the spine.

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Disc Herniations

Terminology for disc herniations varies widely in the medical community. Herniated discs, pinched nerves, bulging discs. Sometimes these terms cross-refer to one another. Nerve root pain is directly associated with disc herniations. Nerve root pain or pinched nerves are most accurately referred to as disc herniations.

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Locations of Discogenic Pain

Primarily, discogenic pain is localized to the lumbar area of your back, also known as your lower back. Pain is most often located here because of the anatomy of the lower spine which has five vertebrae – each with soft discs in between. With age, these hydrated discs lose water content and can crack and tear. Therefore, these cracks and tears can cause pain.

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Discogenic Pain

Back pain is one of the most common medical concerns, especially in the elderly. This pain is associated with the natural aging of the spinal column and can originate in the neck and lower back. Pain resulting from damaged vertebral discs are also referred to as discogenic pain.

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Disc Degeneration

Degeneration of the spinal discs is often called “degenerative disc disease”. This is a misnomer because this degeneration is not specifically a disease. These are normal changes to the spinal discs as they age. These soft areas of the spine act as shock absorption and also allow movement too. As time goes on, these discs get worn down and can result in pain along the spine as section of vertebrae will begin to grind into one another. This pain is often associated with the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions of the spine.

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Surgery and Lumbar Degenerative Disorders, Buffalo NY

Contact Dr. Leone to learn more about surgical options regarding disk herniations and other spinal irregularities.

Factors that influence the decision to proceed with surgery include disk herniation into a stenotic canal, which may lead to recurrent or persistent symptoms; inability of patients to comply with the dictates of a conservative therapy regimen; and the number of sciatica episodes experienced by a patient. Absolute indications for surgery in lumbar disk herniation are bladder and bowel involvement and progressive neurologic deficit.¹

¹R. Vaccaro MD, Alexander. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2005.