The spine is made up of 26 vertebral bones. Filling the space between the bones is a soft jelly-like matter called a disc. The disc material cushions the bones and helps keep the spine aligned. A herniated disc is the medical term when the disc slips from the normal alignment. The bones in the back are the lumbar vertebrae. Symptoms of a herniated lumbar disc depend on the affected nerve and the size of the herniation. Common symptoms include pain, muscular weakness and neurological changes in the arms and hands.
A herniated lumbar disc causes pain, which begins in the lower back and radiates down the legs. This is called sciatica. The pain varies from a sharp pain to a burning pain. The pain goes through the buttocks and down the back of the upper leg, according to the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch. Straining the back while coughing or having a bowel movement may increase the pain.
The herniated lumbar disc may cause muscle weakness in the legs. The weakness is normally located in one leg. Muscle spasms are also common. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the weakness may also occur in the bladder and bowels. This is usually from a large herniation in the back. Any loss of bladder or bowel control, especially when coupled with weakness in both legs or in the foot, signifies a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is necessary. The herniated lumbar disc may also cause lower back pain.
Numbness and Tingling
Numbness and tingling in the buttock or legs may occur. Tingling is the pins and needle feeling caused by the pressure on the affected nerve. The numbness and tingling can affect one or both legs and may affect the foot. The feeling may come and go and may accompany the pain in the legs.