Your spine comprises small bones called vertebrae, with cushion-like discs between them. These discs help your spine move smoothly when you do everyday activities.
Sometimes, one of these discs can get damaged, called a prolapsed disc. You might also hear it called a slipped disc or herniated disc.
When a disc is damaged, it puts pressure on the nerves around your spine or the spinal cord. This can cause a lot of pain for some people, while others may feel a loss of sensation in their back or legs.
If you think you have a prolapsed disc, it's important to talk to a doctor as soon as possible. Our doctors will listen to your symptoms and recommend the best recovery method. They can also suggest taking time off work if needed.
Symptoms of a Prolapsed Disc
A prolapsed disc can happen anywhere in your spine, from your neck to your lower back. It usually causes pain, numbness, or tingling in different body areas, like the neck, arms, shoulders, back, buttocks, legs, and feet.
Sometimes, you might feel muscle weakness, spasms, or trouble doing simple tasks because of the disc problem.
A common condition linked to a prolapsed disc is sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest in your body, going from your pelvis down both legs. If a disc in your lower back is damaged, it can press on the sciatic nerve and cause pain in your legs and buttocks.
A severe condition a prolapsed disc can cause is cauda equina syndrome. This happens when the damaged disc affects the nerves at the bottom of your spine. Along with sciatica symptoms, it can also lead to problems like loss of feeling in the legs and groin or incontinence. If you have these symptoms, you must talk to a doctor immediately to prevent long-term damage.
What Causes a Prolapsed Disc?
Certain factors can increase your chances of having a prolapsed disc.
Jobs that involve heavy lifting or manual labour can put you at risk of slipping a disc, significantly if you don't lift things safely.
Surprisingly, even jobs where you sit a lot can also be a risk. Try to stand up and stretch your legs occasionally to relieve pressure on your lower back.
Other factors contributing to a prolapsed disc include experiencing trauma, like falling or being in a collision, having weight problems, smoking, and getting older. As you age, your discs become more fragile, which makes them more likely to have prolapsed discs.
Treatment for a Prolapsed Disc
Different treatments are available for a prolapsed disc, depending on its severity.
Most of the time, a slipped disc will get better on its own. Resting and staying active with activities like swimming can help. If you need time off work, the doctor can give you a note from your employer.
You might also be given medicine to help with the pain, like painkillers or anti-inflammatories. The doctor will recommend the right medicine for you.
Physical therapy might be necessary for your recovery. You could be referred to a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or massage therapist who can help manage your pain and get you back to normal.
In about 10% of cases, surgery might be an option for a prolapsed disc.
You can book a consultation to discover the best next steps for your recovery from a prolapsed disc.