A prolapsed disc is a condition that occurs when the jelly like substance that protects the disc in the spine is able to leave the spine due to a rupture. While this material can get thinner with age, certain injuries to the spine can cause it to occur earlier on, and lead to a variety of symptoms in various areas of the body. This condition is more commonly known as a herniated disc, and it is one of the most common causes of back pain seen in the medical field.
Facts about Prolapsed Disc
- Prolapsed discs are the most common cause of trips to the ER each year by those experiencing back pain.
- While prolapsed discs occur with age, trauma to the back can also cause this condition to occur, as can certain medical conditions.
- A prolapsed disc is the most common cause of sciatica pain.
Causes and Symptoms
This type of condition can cause pain that occurs within the sciatica, which is a longest nerve within the human body. When pain occurs within the sciatica, it can lead to pain that extends from the upper back, runs through the lower back, and then makes its way through the buttock and thighs. The pain that occurs can also make its way into the feet, and cause pain that is experienced as; numb, aching, burning and tingling.
Aging of the discs that causes degeneration to occur is the most common cause of this condition. Overtime, the liquid within the discs begins to lessen, and it results in thinning of the jelly substance. While age is the most common factor, those who work in careers that require a lot of manual labor are more prone to getting this disorder. Also, injury to the region can cause a prolapsed disc, and it is seen in those who participate in high impact sports, along with injuries due to falls or other similar accidents.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When this condition is suspected, your doctor will first do a physical, which is done by applying pressure, and examining the area for signs of irritation. If a prolapsed disc is suspected, the physician will then use imaging devices to determine if the pain is actually caused from the disc. The imaging device used for a disc issue is an x-ray, as this allows the disc to show any problems on the imaging, which will not be shown with other imaging tests, such as an MRI.
The most common treatment is physical therapy, as this can often allow the disc to heal on its own. Along with physical therapy, and at home application of compression in hot and cold forms, the disc will generally heal on its own. However, the physician will monitor the condition and see if it’s gets worse or better overtime. If there isn’t any progression in the healing process, surgery may be used to correct the issue. The most common surgery is the use of a non-invasive method which involves making a small incision, and then moving the disc back into its original location. This surgery is typically effective if the disc hasn’t degenerated at a progressive level, and a special bonding material is used to hold the disc in place.
By working with your doctor and determining how far the progression of the degeneration is, you’ll be able to keep the condition from getting worse, while reducing pain and taking action where needed to prevent the disc from not healing properly, which can lead to additional problems down the road.