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Lateral disc protrusion

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

General features of lateral disc protrusion:

  • sciatic pain - i.e. pain in buttock, and down the back of the thigh and the leg. This is aggravated by coughing, sneezing and straining, and is more intense that any associated backache.
  • numbness or tingling in the distribution of the affected root

Neurological features depend upon the nerve affected:

  • L4 - quadriceps wasting and weakness; impaired knee jerk; sensory impairment over medial calf.
  • L5 - wasting and weakness of dorsiflexors of foot (with some degree of foot drop), extensor digitorum longus and extensor hallucis longus; wasting of extensor digitorum brevis; sensory impairment over lateral calf and dorsum of foot.
  • S1 - sensor impairment over outer aspect of the foot; impaired ankle jerk; possible wasting and weakness of the plantar flexors, but may remain strong due to S2 supply.

Mechanical features of lateral disc protrusion:

  • positive femoral stretch test
  • positive straight leg raising test

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