Disc prolapse symptoms are not always present with a prolapsed, herniated, or ruptured disc. While the description of a prolapsed disc sounds intimidating – the gel-like nucleus of an intervertebral disc extrudes through a tear or split in the disc’s fibrous outer wall – you may be surprised to learn that most people who experience the condition never know they have it, and their day-to-day life is not affected at all.
When disc prolapse symptoms do occur, they are associated with impingement or irritation of a nerve root or the spinal cord. There are 31 pairs of nerve roots located along the spine – eight in the cervical spine, 12 in the thoracic spine, five in the lumbar spine, five in the sacrum and one in the coccyx. When disc nucleus material pushes out and irritates, or compresses, one of the nerve roots or the spinal cord, symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness can occur in the part of the body associated with the particular pinched nerve root.
Disc prolapse symptoms throughout the body
Here are the areas of the body affected by nerve root impingement within the three major regions of the spine – cervical, thoracic and lumbar:
- Prolapsed cervical disc (C1-7) – Head, diaphragm, upper body, arms, wrists, hands
- Thoracic disc prolapse (T1-12) – Upper back, chest, torso, ribs
- Prolapsed lumbar disc (L1-5) – Lower back, hips, legs, ankles, feet, toes
Disc prolapse symptoms normally can be managed through the use of conservative, or non-surgical, treatments such as physical therapy, exercise, rest, activity modification or pain medications. If chronic neck or back pain persists after weeks or months of conservative treatment, a physician might suggest surgery as an option.
Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to traditional prolapsed disc surgery. Our surgeons use the latest techniques to perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that can help you find relief from pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more and for a review of your CT scan or MRI.