What can be done about intervertebral disc damage?

The symptoms caused by a prolapsed disc can be painful and debilitating, taking you away from loved ones and your favorite activities. However, getting meaningful treatment for a prolapsed disc that gets you back to a better quality of life can be achieved. A great first step is educating yourself about the condition and the full range of treatment options available. This will allow you and your primary physician to develop a care plan best suited to your individual needs and specific situation.

What is a prolapsed disc?

A prolapsed disc is an alternative term for a herniated or ruptured disc. The spinal discs, which lie between each of the vertebrae, are made of a tough exterior shell called the annulus fibrosus and an inner gel-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. When the annulus fibrosus develops a weak point and ruptures, the nucleus pulposus can push out into the surrounding areas of the spine. Common causes include age-related deterioration, repetitive motion strain or traumatic injury.

A prolapsed disc usually does not cause severe symptoms unless any of the disc material puts pressure on any of the tightly packed nerves that run through the spine. When this happens, symptoms such as shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness can occur both locally and radiate to the extremities.

What prolapsed disc treatment should you choose?

Like many conditions affecting the spine, a prolapsed disc is usually first treated through conservative measures. Commonly prescribed methods by physicians include hot/cold compression therapy, low-impact exercise and over-the-counter pain medication. In many cases, these tactics lead to a satisfactory reduction in pain and weakness, allowing patients to return to normal daily activity.

In the case that these prolapsed disc treatment options don’t work after weeks or months of trying them, surgery might become an option. Depending on how the disc in question is affecting the surrounding area, there are several surgical procedures that specialists will explore, including:

  • Foraminotomy — The widening of a nerve root exit, called the foramina, to decompress the nerve that is making contact with the damaged disc
  • Laminotomy — The removal of a small section on the rear of the vertebra to relieve pressure caused by the affected disc
  • Discectomy — The removal of part of or all of the affected disc

Traditional open spine surgery is usually treated as a last-resort option because it is a highly invasive process requiring a large muscle-tearing incision and overnight hospitalization followed by a long recovery period. Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative: minimally invasive spine surgery that uses state-of-the-art techniques to access the spine with a smaller, muscle-sparing incision. This results in an outpatient procedure with a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today, our Care Team can tell you how to get your no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.