Prolapsed disc in the lumbar spine — overview

A prolapsed lumbar disc is a spine condition that can cause lower back pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the lower body. This condition can also be called a herniated or ruptured disc, and usually is caused by normal, age-related deterioration. It can happen to people of all ages, but becomes more common after the age of 35.

If you suspect you have a prolapsed lumbar disc, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss prolapsed disc treatment options. Your doctor can properly diagnose your condition and help you find the right treatment for your specific needs. Prior to your appointment, take some time to learn about this condition and what causes it to develop.

How does a prolapsed disc develop?

A prolapsed lumbar disc can occur anywhere in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine, especially the vertebrae at the base. The discs between these relatively flexible lumbar vertebrae are prone to issues like prolapse because the lower back supports much of the body’s weight and facilitates a fairly wide range of motion.

As the body ages, the discs between our vertebrae begin to lose their elasticity and their ability to bounce back from everyday movements. This creates pressure which pushes the soft inner disc against the fibrous outer layer. Eventually, the disc wall can tear, and inner material pushes into the spinal column, resulting in a prolapsed disc. While the lower back is the most common area to find a prolapsed disc, a prolapsed cervical disc (upper spine) or a thoracic disc prolapse (middle spine) are also possible.

Symptoms and treatment for a prolapsed lumbar disc

While a disc prolapse in the lumbar spine goes undetected in many cases, it can occasionally produce symptoms that include:

  • Numbness or tingling in the feet and toes
  • Shooting pain into the hips
  • Numbness or pain in the sole of the foot
  • Weakness in the buttocks and upper leg
  • Loss of ankle reflex

Prolapsed disc symptoms can be managed through conservative treatments like physical therapy, pain medications, exercise or rest. If prolapsed lumbar disc pain continues after weeks or months of this type of treatment, consider Laser Spine Institute, which offers an alternative to traditional open spine surgery.

The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine surgery using muscle-sparing techniques. The result is a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication for our patients. Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.