Bulging or Herniated Disc(s)
The spine is made up of a series of connected bones called “vertebrae”. The disc is a combination of strong connective tissues which hold one vertebra to the next, and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. The disc is made of a tough outer layer called the “annulus fibrosus” and a gel-like center called the “nucleus pulposus.” As you get older, the center of the disc may start to lose water content, making the disc less effective as a cushion. This may cause a displacement of the disc’s center (called a herniated or ruptured disc) through a crack in the outer layer. This may also be caused by collision or compression accidents suffered in car accidents and sports injuries. Most disc herniations occur in the bottom two discs of the lumbar spine, at and just below the waist.
A herniated lumbar disc can press on the nerves in the spine and may cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness of the leg called “sciatica”. Sciatica affects about 1-2% of all people, usually between the ages of 30 and 50.
A herniated lumbar disc may also cause back pain, although back pain alone (without leg pain) can have many causes other than a herniated disc.