Prolapsed disc causes include the natural aging process

A prolapsed disc occurs when the nucleus material of a spinal disc pushes through a weak point or tear in the outer layer, causing a prolapse.

There is a range of causes for spine conditions like a prolapsed disc, but the biggest contributor is often the natural aging process. If this condition is affecting your life, learning more about both how it is caused and how symptoms develop can be an important part of treating this condition and getting back to normal activity.

How age-related changes can cause a prolapsed disc

As people age, the discs in the spine begin to lose water content and elasticity, leaving the outer wall of the disc weakened and susceptible to damage. As the spine undergoes years of twisting, bending and supporting the upper body, the nucleus can begin to press against the weakened disc wall. Eventually, the outer layer can develop small cracks or tears, allowing the inner material to push out into the spinal column.

This does not necessarily cause pain or symptoms on its own. However, they can develop if disc material presses against spinal nerves. The resulting symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Slower reflexes
  • Warm or burning sensations

Because a prolapsed disc so often occurs with the natural deterioration of the spine, this condition commonly develops in the lumbar (lower) spinal region, where the lumbar vertebrae bear much of the body’s weight. When these symptoms occur in the lower back, the pain can radiate from the spine into the legs and feet. Additionally, a prolapsed disc can frequently develop in the cervical (upper) spinal region as well, due to the pressure required to support the head. A cervical prolapsed disc can cause neck pain as well as traveling symptoms in the arms and hands.

Managing prolapsed disc symptoms

Many people can manage the symptoms of a prolapsed disc through the use of pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, lifestyle changes or other forms of conservative treatment.

However, if the pain continues after several months and treatment options have been exhausted, you may be a candidate for the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient procedures offer patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery by lowering the risk of complication and offering our patients a shorter recovery time.^

To see if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery used to treat a prolapsed disc, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask your doctor for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*