Disc prolapse is bulging out (herniating) of the inner softer part of the disc (the nucleus pulposus) through a weak point in the outer part of the disc. It is also called as herniated disc. Any part of the spinal disc can prolapse with varying degree of size of prolapse.

The bulging disc can either press on the nearby structures like nerves of spinal cord or cause inflammation around the prolapsed part of the disc.

Risk factors of Prolapsed disc 

  • Age between 30 and 50 years
  • Men are affected twice as compared to women
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight (obesity)

 Causes of a prolapsed disc

People who have a weakness in the outer part of the disc may suffer from slipped disc due to any of the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Awkward bending
  • Heavy lifting
  • Continuous sitting
  • Weight-bearing sports (weightlifting, etc.)

Symptoms of Disc Prolapse

The symptoms produced by prolapsing of disc depend upon its size and location. Some prolapses are very small and does not cause any symptoms while other may present as:

  • Sudden-onset (acute) of severe pain
  • Mild to severe pain along the course of the nerve
  • Sensation like pricking by pins and needles
  • Numbness or weakness in part of a buttock, leg or foot
  • Problems with bowel and bladder function (usually inability to pass urine)
  • Numbness in the anus

 Tests & Diagnosis

Physical examination and thorough history of the patient generally helps the physician in diagnosis of a ‘slipped’ (prolapsed) disc. In most cases, no tests or treatment is required, as the symptoms often settle within a few weeks. But if symptoms persist for longer period of time, following tests may be required:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI

 Treatments for a prolapsed disc

The abnormal disc that is causing symptoms or does not get better in few weeks, need treatment that may include any of the following:

  •  Exercise and keep going with normal activities
  •  Physical treatments by physiotherapist
  •  Medication:
  • Painkillers like paracetamol, anti-inflammatory painkillers or sometimes stronger painkiller
  •  A muscle relaxant such as diazepam
  •  Surgery in cases where symptoms have not settled after about six weeks or so
Prolapsed disc

Spinal Cord