Lumbar Disc Herniation

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Lumbar disc herniation occurs when a lumbar disc bulges out. Lumbar discs are spongy cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in your lower back. The herniated disc may press on your nerves or spinal cord. A herniated lumbar disc may be painful and decrease your movement.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Injections of medicine into your spine may bruise your back, cause an infection, or damage your spinal cord. With surgery, you may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your lumbar spine may be weak and unstable. The covering of your spinal cord may be damaged and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may leak out. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening. Even with treatment, you may still feel pain.

  • Without treatment, your symptoms may worsen. Your bulging disc may continue to press on your spinal cord or nerves and cause permanent damage. Your legs may become weak and numb. Your back and leg pain may make it hard for you to move. You may begin to have problems with leaking urine or bowel movements.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • NSAIDs decrease swelling and pain.

  • Prescription pain medicine helps decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.

  • Steroids help decrease inflammation.

  • Chemonucleolysis is an injection of medicine given to shrink your bulging disc.

  • An epidural injection is medicine that numbs the area near the bulging disc and decreases pain.

Treatment:

  • Physical therapy may be recommended by your caregiver. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to make your back muscles stronger and decrease your pain. A physical therapist can teach you safe ways to bend, lift, sit, and stand to decrease your risk for low back pain.

  • Surgery may be needed to fix your herniated disc if other treatments have failed. Surgery may be done to remove your herniated disc and make your spine stronger. Surgery may also be done to decrease pressure on your nerves and spinal cord.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Lumbar Disc Herniation (Inpatient Care)

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