Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Lumbar Herniated Disc Specialist

George Kakoulides, MD -  - Board Certified Neurosurgeon

George Kakoulides, MD

Board Certified Neurosurgeon located in West Islip, Huntington, Smithtown, NY, & Long Island, NY

Lumbar herniated discs are associated with age-related degeneration, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe until after you retire. This problem is most prevalent among those ages 30-50. George Kakoulides, MD, alleviates the lower back pain and sciatica caused by a lumbar herniated disc with conservative medical care followed by surgical repair if your symptoms don’t improve. To get help for lower back pain, schedule an appointment online or call one of the offices in West Islip, Huntington, and Smithtown, New York.

Lumbar Herniated Disc

What is a lumbar herniated disc?

Your lumbar spine, better known as your lower back, consists of five vertebrae that support the stress of your body weight while allowing the full range of movement. Between each vertebra is a spinal disc made of a tough outer layer that encases a soft, gel-like core.

This specialized design is perfectly suited for the disc’s job. Discs absorb shock, support movement, and cushion the vertebrae.

Over time, the outer cover develops weak areas where the inner gel can bulge out or herniate. As the herniation pushes into the spinal canal, it compresses the nerves, causing pain and inflammation. 

In some cases, the outer cover ruptures and the gel leaks into the spinal canal, which irritates the nearby nerves.

What causes a lumbar herniated disc?

Herniated lumbar discs are usually caused by normal age-related degeneration. As you get older, the discs naturally dry out, shrink, and become less flexible. At the same time, daily wear-and-tear weakens the outer cover. You can also develop a lumbar herniated disc due to an injury.

What symptoms develop due to a lumbar herniated disc?

The first symptom of a herniated disc is usually lower back pain. As the herniated disc compresses nerves, you experience:

  • Sharp, shooting pain down one leg (sciatica)
  • Numbness or tingling in your leg and/or foot
  • Muscle weakness in the leg and/or foot
  • Muscle cramping or spasms
  • Spinal instability if the disc flattens

In rare cases, nerve damage causes loss of bladder or bowel control. This condition requires emergency surgery to prevent permanent neurological injury.

How is a lumbar herniated disc treated?

Dr. Kakoulides confirms the diagnosis of a herniated lumbar disc with an MRI or a CT scan, which clearly shows the herniation and the affected nerve roots. In some cases, he performs an electromyogram to test how well the nerves can conduct electrical signals. 

Most patients find that their symptoms improve in about 4-6 weeks. During this period, Dr. Kakoulides manages your pain with medication and may recommend other treatments such as an epidural steroid injection to help relieve severe symptoms.

You may need surgery if your symptoms last longer than six weeks. During surgery, Dr. Kakoulides removes a small window of bone so he can inspect the spinal canal and nerve roots. Then he removes the herniated portion of the disc that’s touching or compressing the nerves.

If the damage is extensive, Dr. Kakoulides may need to remove the entire disc. Following a complete discectomy, you need either an artificial disc replacement or a spinal fusion.

If you develop ongoing lower back pain or sciatica, call George Kakoulides, MD, or book an appointment online.