Disc Prolapse

Disc Prolapse

Summary of Disc Prolapse

Disc Prolapse is also known as slipped disc, and describes the condition when the inner nucleus of one of the discs between your vertebrae (spine) tracks backwards and causes a bulge in the outer layer. This often is caused by a hue physical exertion such as bending, twisting or lifting.

Disc Prolapse FAQ's

The discs sit in between each vertebra to make up your spine. These discs act as a spacer and shock absorber for the spine, and are made up of a gel like substance surrounded by very tough rings of tissue.

As you age beyond 30, fissures start to develop in the outer shell of the disc. If engaged in manual labour, the fissures develop at a quicker rate, with manual activity placing pressure on the disc and pushing the gel centre backwards along one of the fissures. If this happens it results in a bulge, which can come into contact with surrounding nerve roots.

This is particularly common in men who work in hard labour jobs which involve bending and lifting, usually between the ages of 30 and 50.

Back pain is a severe symptom that causes debilitating and sudden pain across the back and sometimes down into the leg. The pain often increases when sitting, bending, coughing or sneezing, and can be eased by lying flat on your back or walking around.

Nerve root pain is a different kind of pain which comes as a result of the nerve pressing on the prolapsed disc. This causes additional pain along the nerve as well as across the back, and can extend down into the leg or even foot. Nerve root pain can be mild or severe and may also cause pins and needles, numbness or weakness in the leg or foot. The exact location of the pain depends on which nerve root has been affected.

Cauda equina syndrome is a particularly serious type of nerve root problem that can be caused by a prolapsed disc, where the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord come under pressure/ This can cause issues beyond pain, including problems with the bowel and bladder and weakness in the legs. This branch of the syndrome demands immediate medical attention.

Recovery from a slipped disc takes between four and six weeks of home treatment and exercise. Once you have suffered once, the likelihood of a reoccurrence is high in cases where the patient does not continue the exercises and take care when working manual tasks.

Exercises may be prescribed that work to reverse the tracking of the inner nucleus gel, by assisting the gel back on course to the centre of the disc. This can be helped by encouraging the patient to lie on their front as much as possible. Avoiding bending movements is another recommendation that can help. Other treatments include mobilisation and pain management, anti-inflammatory treatments, taping techniques, heat therapy and ice therapy, and nerve stimulation.

Recovery will be far quicker if you keep active throughout treatment and recovery as opposed to resting, and you will be prescribed a series of exercises that will help speed up recovery and decrease the chances of persistent back pain reoccurring. The exercises need to be continued even after recovery to prevent the condition from returning. Advice will be made regarding posture and manual work that must be followed to ensure successful recovery.

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