What should I do if I think I have a prolapsed disc?

If you think you have a prolapsed disc because you are experiencing similar symptoms, contacting your doctor should always be the first course of action. He or she can accurately diagnose your condition and work with you to develop a personalized treatment program. However, learning about the causes and symptoms of a prolapsed disc can help you become more involved in getting the care you need.

Causes of a prolapsed disc

The most common cause of a prolapsed disc is something no one can prevent: aging. The spinal discs, which cushion the vertebrae and allow flexibility in the neck and back, lose water content and elasticity over time. This can potentially cause the gel-like inner disc material to push through a weakened or torn spot in the outer disc wall. Other causes and contributors include injury, being overweight and poor posture.

Symptoms of a prolapsed disc

A prolapsed disc doesn’t always cause symptoms but they can develop if extruded disc material puts pressure on the spinal cord or an exiting nerve root and interferes with their normal functioning. The resulting symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Pain that travels the length of a nerve
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

The location of symptoms can tell doctors where the disc prolapse may be located on the spine. For example, a prolapsed disc in the cervical (upper) region of the spine can affect the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. While nerve compression in the lumbar (lower) spine typically causes symptoms in the lower body, including the buttocks and legs.

Diagnosis and treatment

To diagnose the cause of symptoms, your doctor should review your medical history and perform a physical examination with movement tests. Diagnostic tests like an MRI, X-rays and nerve tests may also be ordered to confirm the presence of a prolapsed disc or other spine condition. In most cases, he or she will likely recommend a variety of conservative treatments, which are typically very effective in easing symptoms. These can include physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, pain medication, exercise and periods of rest.

However, if weeks or months of conservative treatments have been unable to ease your pain, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our outpatient minimally invasive spine surgery. These procedures are an alternative to the risks and difficulties involved with traditional open spine surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^

To learn more, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.