What are the symptoms and causes of a prolapsed disc?

A prolapsed disc occurs when the interior of a disc has moved out of place, causing the form of the disc to change and bulge outside of its normal shape to a place where it shouldn’t be. This can put pressure on the nerve related to that segment and lead to the disc tearing and oozing out, which is also known as a herniated disc, ruptured disc or slipped disc.

Oftentimes, an individual with this condition won’t experience any symptoms. Symptoms will typically appear if the nerves in the disc wall are irritated by core disc material or if the disc extends far enough out of place to compress the spinal cord or a nerve root. Read on to learn about the symptoms, causes and treatments associated with a prolapsed disc.

Prolapsed disc symptoms

When a prolapsed disc does compress a nerve, symptoms may include:

  • Localized pain at the site of the affected disc
  • Radiating pain that follows the nerve path
  • Muscle weakness, tingling or numbness
  • Problems with walking or reflexes
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction

It is important to note that this condition can develop anywhere along the spinal column and the location of the affected disc will determine where symptoms will be concentrated. This condition is most common in the lumbar spine (lower back), where the spine endures the most pressure.

Prolapsed disc causes

There are several different causes that can contribute to a prolapsed disc. Some of the most common factors include:

  • Poor posture
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Physically demanding activities
  • Smoking or alcohol consumption
  • Excess body weight
  • Injury

A prolapsed disc may be the result of several of these factors in combination, making the exact cause difficult to pinpoint. However, the most common cause is age-related degeneration — the cumulative effect of the constant wear the spine endures over many years of daily activity.

The most important focus when this condition develops is to consult your doctor and come with an effective treatment regimen, which may include conservative options such as anti-inflammatory pain medications, epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulations and low-impact exercises.

Minimally invasive prolapsed disc surgery at Laser Spine Institute

When conservative treatment options are not enough to relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend seeing if you are a candidate for surgery, such as the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons+ specialize in outpatient procedures that help our patients find relief from neck and back pain.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Our minimally invasive techniques use less than a 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques to preserve surrounding tissue. Additionally, our procedures have a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery, which contributes to a patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^

Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out our minimally invasive spine surgery would be effective in treating your prolapsed disc symptoms.