Conditions We Treat

Prolapsed Disc

Even though there are minor differences between the three, many people interchangeably use the terms prolapsed disc, herniated disc, and bulging disc. Intervertebral discs are present between the spinal cord vertebrae. The Annulus Fibrosus is a thick layer of tissue surrounding each intervertebral disc. The inner layer, known as the “Nucleus Pulposus,” is fluid. It has a similar consistency to a jelly doughnut. The spinal column consists of these vertebrae with discs placed between them. The spinal column contains the spinal cord and all the nerves that supply to the body.

close up view of doctor holds in his hands a model

What is a Prolapsed Disc?

When a disc prolapses, the inner liquid layer presses on the outer thick tissue layer. This protrusion puts pressure on a spinal nerve root, resulting in pain, numbness, or weakness. Because of mobility, the most common prolapsed discs happen in the lower back (the lumbar portion of the spine). Radiating nerve pain can occur when a disc prolapses in the lumbar spine. The pain originates in the prolapsed disc location but is felt in another part of the body (typically the lower limbs or groin).

Prolapsed discs in the neck can also occur. If you have a prolapsed disc in your neck, you may have limited mobility and pain down your arms, across your shoulders, and into your upper back. Prolapsed discs in the lower back can cause a condition known as Cauda Equina Syndrome in extreme situations. It can result in bowel and bladder incontinence and is considered a medical emergency.

What Causes Prolapsed Disc?

The most common cause of a prolapsed disc is ordinary wear and tear. Our spines begin to slide lower with gravity as we age and lose muscle. This increased pressure over time, with decreased exercise, might result in a disc prolapse.

Prolapsed discs can also be due to back trauma or injury, repetitive motion injuries, or car accidents. There is also evidence that there is a hereditary factor. If you have a close relative with a prolapsed disc, you are more likely to have it too.

Other risk factors include:

  • Weight-bearing sports (weightlifting).
  • A job involving lots of lifting.
  • A job involving sitting (driving).
  • Smoking.
  • Being overweight (obesity).
  • Increasing age

How Are Prolapsed Discs Diagnosed?

By evaluating you, your doctor should be able to diagnose a prolapsed disc based on your symptoms. It is the most prevalent cause of acute back pain having nerve root symptoms. In most situations, no testing is necessary because the symptoms usually resolve within a few weeks.

If symptoms persist, tests such as X-rays or CT scans may be recommended. An MRI scan, in particular, can reveal the location and extent of a prolapsed disc. This information is essential if surgical treatment is the choice.

People might have a disc prolapse without experiencing any symptoms. It is also crucial to ensure that any prolapse found on a scan corresponds to your symptoms. Low back pain is frequent, and it can occur even if an MRI shows a disc protrusion, but the disc prolapse is not the cause.

Treatment Options for Prolapsed Discs

The treatment options include:

1. Exercise:

Exercise is crucial if you have a prolapsed disc. It can reduce pain by strengthening the muscles that support your spine. Although it is unknown whether specific spinal exercises are superior to being fit in general, a physiotherapist can advise you on what you could undertake in your situation. Exercise not only alleviates the pain of a prolapsed disc but may also lower the likelihood of it happening again.

2. Physical Therapies:

Some people seek manipulation and other physical therapies from a chiropractor or osteopath. It is questionable if such physical treatments benefit all persons with a prolapsed disc. They may provide some temporary relief. It is better to combine them with regular exercise.

3. Medications:

It is important to take pain relievers regularly if you require them. If you take them regularly, your pain will be relieved for a long time, allowing you to exercise and stay active.

Anti-Inflammatory Pain Relievers:
Some people believe that they are more effective than Acetaminophenl. They include Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium, which are available in pharmacies or on prescription. Other medications, such as Diclofenac, require a prescription.

Weak Opioids:
If an anti-inflammatory medication cannot be used, weak opioid drugs (e.g., Codeine) with or without Acetaminophen, can be used to manage acute low back pain. Opioids, on the other hand, should not be utilized for long-term treatment.

4. Epidural Injections:

An epidural is a spinal anesthesia injection. It is injected into the location in the back where the nerve exits the spine. A specialist doctor will give you this injection. The injection combines a local anesthetic and a steroid, which has a significant anti-inflammatory effect.

5. Surgery:

In some circumstances, surgery may be a possibility. Your doctor will recommend the surgery if the symptoms are severe and have not improved after six weeks or more. The purpose of surgery is to remove the prolapsed disc and relieve pressure on the nerves. Surgery can provide you with significant pain relief and a permanent cure. You should only consider surgery as a treatment option for a prolapsed disc if all other treatment options do not work for you.

Improving Patients’ Quality of Life Through Personalized Care

If you’re struggling with neck, back, or hip pain or any other spine related issues, schedule an appointment with us today to get back to living your life the way you’d like to.

Common Conditions We Treat