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What are the symptoms of a disc protrusion in your lower back?

No two people experience disc protrusion symptoms in exactly the same way. In some cases, a protruded disc may heal on its own and produce no symptoms at all. In others, spinal nerve compression can occur, leading to chronic discomfort. Regardless of the form symptoms take, however, many patients are able to find sufficient relief with conservative treatments.

What does a disc protrusion in the lower back feel like?

A disc protrusion often causes a dull, localized backache, which may last for a few days and then improve, only to return later and worsen. Eventually, the back pain may be accompanied by muscle weakness, numbness or tingling sensations that radiate into the legs (sciatica). Sometimes, the symptoms extend below the knees and into the ankles and feet. For instance, you might feel as if your pain is moving from your lower back or buttocks down one leg to your foot.

In sum, the most common symptoms of a disc protrusion in the lower back are:

  • Low back pain
  • Leg and/or foot pain
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in a leg and/or foot
  • Muscle weakness in a leg and/or foot

In rare instances, disc protrusion symptoms can include a loss of bladder or bowel control, which may be a sign of a serious neurological condition known as cauda equina syndrome. These symptoms, which can result from excessive pressure on a bundle of nerves located at the base of the spine, require immediate medical attention.

How is a protruded disc treated?

Because a protruded disc can cause symptoms that are very similar to those of other conditions, an accurate diagnosis is essential. Different diagnoses can require vastly different treatment approaches, and the sooner you begin treatment that is appropriate for your specific condition, the sooner you will likely find relief.

After confirming your diagnosis, your physician may advise you to start out with a combination of conservative treatments to ease your disc protrusion symptoms as your body heals. Many patients benefit from low-impact exercise, pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

If your disc protrusion symptoms are severe and your physician recommends surgery to address the underlying cause, contact USA Spine Care. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate one of our minimally invasive procedures.

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