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Prolapsed disc

What is a prolapsed disc?

A prolapsed disc is a spinal disc that is no longer in its intended place in the spinal column. More specifically, the term refers to a disc that has weakened and expanded outward, but has not completely ruptured. Usually, though, the term prolapsed disc is used interchangeably with “herniated disc,” “ruptured disc,” and “slipped disc,” all of which refer to a disc in different stages of degeneration.

How is a prolapsed disc diagnosed?

To reach an accurate prolapsed disc diagnosis, you will need to consult with a physician. He or she will listen to you describe your symptoms, talk with you about your medical history and perform a series of diagnostic tests, which will likely include either an MRI, X-ray or CT scan.

What causes a prolapsed disc?

Generally speaking, a prolapsed disc is caused by the natural degeneration of the spine’s discs, which makes them more prone to damage. There are three causes of spinal degeneration — age, injury and daily wear and tear. Age-related degeneration is most common, and cannot be prevented, as discs inherently weaken as we grow older. Injury, such as a car accident or sports injury, can cause a prolapsed disc in individuals of any age. Finally, wear and tear from lifestyle factors such as carrying extra weight, repetitive motions and tobacco use may cause spinal discs to degenerate prematurely.

What are the symptoms of a prolapsed disc?

If an individual’s prolapsed disc has not extended far enough to compress the spinal cord or a nerve root, he or she may not experience any symptoms. In the event that compression of a nerve root or the spinal cord does occur, symptoms can include localized and radiating pain, muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities, loss of fine motor skills and difficulty walking.

How is a prolapsed disc treated?

The exact treatment your physician prescribes for your prolapsed disc will depend on the severity of your symptoms, the location of the affected disc and your own personal comfort level. However, most patients begin with a combination of conservative treatment, which can include over-the-counter and prescription pain medication, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, hot and cold compresses and lifestyle changes.

Additionally, some patients choose to explore alternative methods of treatment on their own. Common methods of alternative treatment include chiropractic manipulation, massage and acupuncture.

When does surgery become necessary for a prolapsed disc?

Unless a patient is experiencing relentless, debilitating symptoms when diagnosed, surgery for a prolapsed disc is usually only recommended in the event that several weeks or months of conservative treatment are ineffective in managing symptoms. While traditional open spine surgery is a common option for this condition, the board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery as an alternative to these highly invasive surgeries.

At Laser Spine Institute our procedures offer many advantages over traditional open neck or back surgery including a reduced risk of complication. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of undergoing minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute in Tampa, Florida, contact us today. Our team will review* your MRI at no cost to find out if you are a candidate for one our procedures.