If you suffer from a prolapsed disc, surgery mayseem like your only option to overcome yourchronic neck or back pain once and for all.However, while you may be eager to schedule aprocedure to treat your pain, it is important tomake sure that you first fully understand the causeof your condition and have explored all of youravailable nonsurgical treatments. You may besurprised to learn that the vast majority of peoplewho suffer from symptoms of disc problems canusually effectively manage their symptoms with aseries of noninvasive methods.
What is a Prolapsed Disc?In the spine, adjacent vertebrae are cushioned and separated by thick spongypads that are known as intervertebral discs. These discs are importantbecause they are both highly flexible and extremely durable, which helpsprovide for the regular movement that we require from our neck and backand also supports a tremendous amount of body weight.Each disc is primarily composed of two main parts, a tough outer shell knownas the annulus fibrosus, and a gel-like center, which is called the nucleuspulposus. A prolapsed disc refers to an intervertebral disc where a rupturehas developed in the annulus fibrosus, allowing the nucleus pulposus toescape the disc and seep into the spinal column. This condition is alsosometimes known as a herniated disc or colloquially as a slipped disc.Yet, simply having a prolapsed disc doesn’t mean surgery is the only option. Infact, many people experience this condition without ever knowing it.
Symptoms from a Prolapsed DiscOne of the interesting things about having a ruptured disc is that thiscondition isn’t inherently symptomatic. In most cases, when a patientexperiences pain or discomfort from a prolapsed disc, it is because theextruded disc material has come into contact with the spinal cord or anerve root in the spinal column and caused the nerve to becomeconstricted or irritated. As a result, the goal of prolapsed disc surgeryand other treatments is usually to alleviate this constriction.A number of unique symptoms can be associated with thiscondition, depending on the cause, location, and severity of theproblem. The most common symptoms include localized neck pain orback pain, traveling pain along a nerve, numbness and tingling in theextremities, and other similar symptoms.
TreatmentIf you’ve been diagnosed with a prolapseddisc, surgery is rarely the first option. Moreoften, a regimen of conservative, noninvasivetreatments will first be attempted as a means ofalleviating strain on the neck or back andreducing pain. These treatments tend to include:• Low-impact exercise• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs• Hot/cold therapy• Diet• Limited rest• Massage• And moreHowever, if several weeks or months of this typeof treatment fails to provide sufficientrelief, other options may be considered.
Considering Prolapsed Disc SurgeryProlapsed disc surgery can be approached in several different ways dependingon the extent of the problem, the cause and location of the prolapseddisc, and your overall health. Traditionally, the use of an open spinesurgery, such as spinal fusion, has been recommended as a means ofpermanently immobilizing the spine at the vertebral level by removing theaffected intervertebral disc and fusing adjacent vertebrae together.Alternatively, recent advancements in endoscopic technology have given riseto minimally invasive alternatives that can sometimes treat the symptoms ofa prolapsed disc without the lengthy hospital stay and arduous recoveryprocess that is associated with open spine surgery. To learn about the specificoptions that are available to you, take the time to research all of your optionsand speak with several doctors in your area. The last thing you want to do isconsent to a surgery that you don’t need when a less invasive option is atyour disposal.