Spine Association for Education

Lumbar Disc Disease

Condition Overview

Everyone is familiar with the phrase, “Oh, my aching back!” And for good reason. By age 40, about 60% of us have already developed some form of degenerative disc disease (DDD). But more specifically, if the pain is chronic and centered in the lower back—below the ribcage—it could be caused by Lumbar Disc Disease. Over time, the gel-like “shock absorber” discs that separate and cushion the five bones in our lower spine, or lumbar vertebrae, can become damaged or begin to wear out. This, in turn, can irritate or pinch surrounding spinal column nerve roots—resulting in Lumbar Disc Disease.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms can range from stiffness or continuous low-grade pain in the lower back to a deep ache that radiates out to encompass the hips, buttocks, legs (above or below the knee), ankle, and foot. Discomfort often increases when sitting and is exacerbated by bending, twisting or lifting activities.

Methods of Diagnosis

A basic physical or neurological exam, plus imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI and CT scans, are typically used to diagnose Lumbar Disc Disease and pinpoint its cause(s).

Methods of Treatment

Usually, Lumbar Disc Disease can be effectively treated with a regimen of regular exercise and over-the-counter medications. In more severe cases, physical therapy and steroid medications are used in combination. Surgery is rarely needed. However, in those instances when it is, there are now a number of effective, minimally invasive procedures worth considering.


PLEASE NOTE: Because the content of this website is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor, S.A.F.E. disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based upon the information presented herein.

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