Prolapsed disc FAQ — frequently asked questions

If you have recently been diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, you probably have a lot of questions running through your mind about this condition and how to get treatment. At Laser Spine Institute we are committed to patient-centered care and we believe that educating yourself is an important part of that. The following questions about prolapsed discs are frequently asked by our patients and can help you become more engaged in your search for treatment.

Q: What is a prolapsed disc?

A: A prolapsed disc happens when the soft interior of a spinal disc has pushed through several layers of the disc wall, but the outer layer of the wall has not yet ruptured. This can cause the disc to protrude out of its normal place in the spinal column.

Q: What causes a prolapsed disc?

A: A number of different factors can contribute to the development of a prolapsed disc, with a combination of causes sometimes leading to a disc prolapse. A prolapsed disc is very commonly caused by the natural aging process, which causes the disc to dry out and lose elasticity. However, there are many other causes of disc degeneration, including genetics, poor posture, being overweight or obese, smoking tobacco and prior injury to the spine.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The symptoms of a prolapsed disc depend on both the extent and the location of the prolapse – some patients experience painful and debilitating symptoms, while others experience no symptoms at all. Symptoms of disc prolapse generally occur when disc material narrows nerve pathways in the spine, causing compression of nerve roots or the spinal cord. Symptoms include pain, muscle weakness and pins-and-needles sensations, both locally and along the length of the nerve.

Q: What are some treatment options?

A: There are several different treatment options available for people with a prolapsed disc. Common treatments include exercise, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Work with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that best suits your particular needs. The goal of conservative treatment is to manage symptoms and improve mobility to help patients return to normal activity.

Q: Will I need surgery?

A: Many people with a prolapsed disc do not end up requiring surgery. However, when conservative treatments have been fully explored and exhausted without an improvement in symptoms, or if they suddenly become worse, surgery can become a serious option.

Traditional open spine surgery involves a large incision, overnight hospitalization and a long, potentially painful and difficult recovery period. Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative with minimally invasive spine surgery, which leads to a shorter recovery time compared to traditional procedures.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost review of your MRI report or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.