One of the most common causes of lower back pain is a herniated lumbar disc. When it occurs, it can also pinch a nearby nerve, leading to radiculopathy. A herniated lumbar disc with radiculopathy can make even your simplest of daily tasks painful and severely impact your quality of life.
The lumbar spine is an incredibly mobile and active part of the body, moving freely in six different directions. There are five vertebrae in the lumbar spine. Each are connected to the other by four joints and separated by intervertebral discs.
These discs themselves have two parts:
Annulus fibrosus: The tough, flexible outer ring of the disc
Nucleus pulposus: The soft, gel-like center of the disc
These discs provide protection and allow easy movement of the vertebrae. They also keep pressure off of the nerves in the spinal column. A herniated lumbar disc with radiculopathy is a condition where the disc has burst and the nucleus pulposus has partially or completely leaked. This results in pressure on spinal nerves and a very specific type of pain that radiates out from the lumbar spine: radiculopathy.
Herniated discs are also sometimes referred to as slipped or ruptured discs, but they are not the same as a bulging disc. Bulging discs extend or protrude outwards, but they are still intact.