Cervical and Lumbar Disc Prolapse


What is a Prolapsed Disc (also known as Slipped or Herniated Disc)?

The inter-vertebral discs are the shock-absorbing cushions between each pair of vertebrae in the spine. Disc prolapse refers to shifting of the gel-like middle part (nucleus) of the disc, out of its normal position. Slipped disc can occur anywhere in the spine, in the neck, middle or lower back.


Symptoms of a Prolapsed Disc

Presentation and symptoms can vary greatly. Most patients complain of neck or back pain, which is made worse by bending or twisting. As the bulge advances it can press on a spinal nerve, causing arm or leg pain (nerve root or radicular pain), numbness, tingling or muscle weakness.


Diagnosis of a prolapsed disc

A careful medical history and physical examination helps making the diagnosis. Plain X-rays can show changes of the spinal alignment or decreased disc height. CT and MRI scan gives a more detailed picture of the discs, ligaments, spinal cord and nerves and will identify a disc protrusion.

Treatment Options

  • Conservative (non-operative) treatment
    • The treatment of a slipped disc depends on the symptoms. Most herniated discs heal without surgery. Your doctor may first suggest rest and observation to monitor the progression of the condition. To control pain medications and physical therapy may be prescribed. If there is severe pain from nerve root irritation, an epidural steroid injection may be suggested. Dr Szabo uses this multi-disciplinary approach for the treatment of a prolapsed dis
  • Surgical Treatment
    • Only when conservative treatment fails surgery is recommended. The traditional surgical treatment for a herniated disc is a laminotomy with discectomy. Dr Szabo performs minimally-invasive discectomy in most cases where surgery is necessary. The minimally-invasive procedures spare the muscles, and are carried out with smaller incisions than used in conventional surgery. Healing time is shorter and most patients are able to return to work in 3 to 4 weeks.
  • http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/microdiscectomy-microdecompression-spine-surgery


1What are the implications of a prolapsed disc in the cervical and lumbar spine?
A herniated cervical disc causes neck pain, whereas a prolapsed disc in the lumbar region leads to intolerable back pain.
2Does disc prolapse always require surgical repair?
Not all cases require surgery and can be treated conservatively. Conservative pain management techniques include rest, physical therapy, massage, medication and hydrotherapy. However, untreated herniated discs that fail to recover can lead to nerve damage.