Disc prolapses

Disc prolapses — also called herniated discs, slipped discs or ruptured discs — can occur anywhere along the spine and often go undetected. Symptoms from herniated discs only occur when displaced spinal disc material compresses the spinal cord or nerve roots. However, the pain and limited mobility that occurs can be extremely debilitating, taking you away from your family and your favorite activities, whether that means gardening or golf.

Getting treatment for a disc prolapse can be made easier by learning about the causes, symptoms and the full range of therapeutic options that may enable you to return to a fuller life. As you and your doctor create a care plan, this knowledge can be used to make the best decision for your unique situation.

How disc prolapses are caused

Disc prolapses can be caused by injury to the spine, but are more commonly the related to aging and decades of everyday neck and back use. The spinal discs — which rest between the vertebrae in the spine, acting as shock absorbers — dry out and lose their elasticity as we get older. As this happens, the discs can start to bulge out from being unable to withstand pressure from the vertebrae. When the disc prolapses, the lining of the disc tears, causing disc material to extrude into the spinal column.

Symptoms and treatment options

As mentioned above, most people who develop a herniated disc never experience symptoms and can lead a normal life never knowing that a disc prolapses. However, when symptoms such as neck or back pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness occur, it is important to consult a physician to receive a proper diagnosis and learn about ways to manage disc prolapse symptoms.

Upon diagnosis, most physicians will start with a round of basic, nonsurgical treatment to manage symptoms. Typical conservative prolapsed disc treatment options may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medications
  • Exercise
  • Rest
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic therapy

If conservative therapy proves ineffective for managing the symptoms of a prolapsed disc, a physician might suggest surgery as an option. Traditional open back surgery is usually seen as a last-resort option because of the muscle-tearing incisions, hospitalization and long recovery period associated with a procedure.

Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to traditional open back surgery. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute use advanced techniques to perform minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery that can decompress nerves affected by disc prolapses. Our procedures use a smaller incision that leads to fewer complications and a shorter recovery time that can get you back to a previous level of activity sooner.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.