Disk Prolapse or (Herniated Disk) – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

November 5, 2019

Disk Prolapse or (Herniated Disk) – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
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What is disk prolapse or herniated disk ?

A disk prolapse or herniated disk is a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) that sit between the individual bones that mound to make your spine. A herniated disk which can occur in any part of the spine can irritate a nearby nerve. Depending on where the issue is, it can result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg.

When confronted with back pain and an MRI report that reads disk prolapse, every person feels a sinking feeling that he/she will never be quite normal again. Nothing can be further from the truth. Back pain is a fairly common complaint and most back pains are simple muscle strains or mechanical back pains due to poor posture and poor core strength.

These are self-limiting but have a propensity to recur given the root cause which is lack of exercise and core strength.

The problem arises when these patients are subjected to an MRI scan and come back with a detailed report on the status of their disk and poorly informed internet articles. To clarify, all back pains are not solely due to a disk prolapse. In fact, most back pains are not caused by disk prolapse.

A simple examination, followed by medication and physiotherapy will relieve the pain in more than 90% of cases. This however must be followed up by a good rehabilitation and strengthening protocol.

Causes of Disk Prolapse

  • Jobs involving lots of lifting and sitting (especially driving)
  • Weight-bearing sports (weightlifting)
  • Smoking
  • Being obese
  • Age factors (a disk is more likely to develop a weakness as we become older)

Symptoms of Disk Prolapse

Most prolapsed discs occur in the lower back, although they can also occur in the neck. The common symptoms include

    • Arm and leg ache

If a person has a prolapsed disk in the lower back, he/she may experience pain in the buttocks, thigh and calf and foot too. If the prolapsed disk is in the neck, a person will feel the most pain in the shoulder and arm.

  • Numbness
  • Weakness

Treatment for Disk Prolapse

Treatments for a prolapsed disk range from conservative to surgical. It depends on the level of discomfort that a person is experiencing and how far the disk has slipped out of place.

    1. Rest

Rest can relieve swelling and give the back time to heal. If the back hurts, avoid exercise and other activities where you have to bend or lift.

    1. Exercise

General exercise is very important for everybody and especially if a person has a prolapsed disc. It can help lessen the pain by strengthening the muscles that support the spine. Although it is not known if specific spinal exercises are better than generally keeping fit, a physiotherapist can advise you on what exercise one could do in the situation. Exercise not only reduces the pain of a prolapsed disc but may also reduce the chance of it happening again.

      • Stretching exercises to keep your muscles flexible
      • Aerobic exercises such as walking or riding a stationary bicycle
      • Massage
      • Heat and Ice therapy
    1. Medications
      • Anti-inflammatory painkillers
      • Opioid medicines
      • A medicine for Neuropathic Pain
    2. Microscopic Spine Surgery

Before you condemn yourself to a life of misery because of a diagnosis of disk prolapse, visit a spine surgeon. Get the right treatment and be back on your feet, doing the things you love at the earliest.

Dr Rela Hospital is one of the multispeciality hospitals in Chennai fully equipped with high-end technology to improve safety and accuracy in complex spine surgeries. It is driven by expert spine surgeons & a fully trained team with more than 10 years of experience in dealing with complex spinal deformity correction, mini-invasive fusion and deformity surgeries for accelerated recovery, microscopic disk surgeries, motion-preserving disk replacement surgeries and complex fracture reconstructions.

Injections for Disk Prolapse

      1. Epidural Steroid Injection
      2. Nerve Root Injection
      3. Facet Joint Injection
      4. Medial Branch Block
      5. Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Injection
      6. Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial
      7. Surgical consultation, evaluation and follow-up

Conditions which will be treated at Dr Rela Hospital

      1. Structural problems
      2. Scoliosis
      3. Spinal stenosis
      4. Degenerative disk disease
      5. Spondylolysis
      6. Spondylolisthesis
      7. Disk herniation
      8. Myelopathy
      9. Bone fractures
      10. Bone infection
      11. Rheumatoid arthritis
      12. Pinched nerves
      13. Bone spurs
      14. Radiculopathy
      15. Cysts and tumors, both cancerous and benign
      16. Conditions caused by traumatic injury

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Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.


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Dr. Parthasarathy Srinivasan

Dr. Parthasarathy Srinivasan

MBBS, D Ortho, DNB (Ortho), MNAMS, FNB (Spine Surgery)

Senior Consultant -Orthopaedics, Head - Spine Surgery

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