Disc Issues

Numbness and tingling down my leg!

As stated in the last blog, this one will be a little more specific as to what may be causing symptoms down a patient’s leg.

A disc herniation or disc bulge are very similar in nature. The difference is how much of the disc is pushed out the back of the vertebrae into the spinal canal. All nerves are in the spinal canal and when they get to a specific level they exit the spinal canal and go to specific areas or muscles. These nerves will go to muscles and areas of the skin. This makes sense, because when a nerve is affected you may get muscle weakness and sensation issues at the areas that are supplied by that nerve. This is why people say they feel numbness and tingling.

lumbar plexus.jpg

As you can see in the picture above, there are a lot of nerves that exit from your low back. That is because all these nerves will supply your leg muscles and skin. If you look at the bottom of that picture, you can see the sciatic nerve. This is the reason, that a condition was termed ‘sciatica’. This condition also causes symptoms down your leg but is due to tight gluteal musculature (butt muscles) as the sciatic nerve courses through them to get down the back of your leg.

If a disc issue is present at any one of those low back levels, it could affect the corresponding nerve that leaves at that level. Depending on which nerve is affected, different muscles or areas of skin would be affected.

So how to determine if a person is experiencing a disc issue?

You can see a disc bulge of the low back on this MRI

You can see a disc bulge of the low back on this MRI

In my clinic, there are certain orthopaedic tests that can be done, coupled with range of motion testing, deep tendon reflexes, muscle testing and sensation testing. That being said, the gold standard to determine if a disc issue is present is an MRI.

So how can I treat without having an MRI?

I can treat a patient that may be experiencing a disc issue without an MRI because we aren’t treating the actual disc issue, we treat the symptoms that are a result of that injury. A disc issue often heals but does take time and may also re-occur. The treatments provided at the clinic are to make the patient more comfortable and get them more functional even with the disc issue.

What kind of treatment would be done for this?


Education and exercises are always included in the treatment plan. The picture above is a cobra exercise. It puts the patients body in a position to hopefully relieve some of the symptoms from the disc protruding out the back of the spinal canal. If they are in acute condition and can barely move, the best treatment I can do is acupuncture. From previous blogs, you may remember that acupuncture helps calm down the nervous system. If the nervous system is sending aberrant signals to the muscles or areas of the skin, acupuncture may be able to decrease those symptoms and make the person more comfortable. It will also decrease muscle guarding or spasms due to the injury helping the person be more functional. As things progress, it is possible to start adding chiropractic manipulations into the treatment plan as well.

I hope this was informative about disc related issues. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the clinic!