A disc prolapse or disc herniation is the cause of spine problems such as lower back pain. This condition typically affects males between the ages of 30 and 50. A disc prolapse can affect the cervical (8%), thoracic (2%), and lower back (90%) intervertebral discs.
What is an intervertebral disc?
Your spine consists of the backbones (vertebrae) with some circular pads or discs between them which provide flexibility and allow for the wide range of movement of the spine. The discs are made of firm rubber-like tissue with a stronger fibrous outer part and a softer toothpaste-like core called nucleus pulposus. Nerves from the spinal cord go through the vertebra and discs and then project to other parts of the body.
What is a disc prolapse?
Disc prolapse occurs when the core of the disc bulges out through the outer part of the disc. This is called a prolapsed or herniated disc. When this happens, a prolapsed disc may exert pressure on the adjacent nerves coming out of your spine. This also causes inflammation around the disc bulge. All the intervertebral discs in the spine have the potential to prolapse. The amount of the prolapse may differ, however, larger prolapse causes more serious complications. This condition is often called a slipped disc which is a misnomer as the disc cannot actually slip.
Causes of a disc prolapse
The various factors that may trigger the disc core to bulge out include:
- Jobs involving lots of lifting
- Poor core stability of disc
- Awkward bending
- Muscle tightness
- Lifting heavy loads in an unsuitable position
- Trauma to the spine
- Sneezing: In people with weakness in the outer part of their discs
- Prolonged sitting, sitting jobs
- Joint stiffness
- Poor posture
Symptoms of a disc prolapse
- Pain: Severe back or neck pain which is intensified with forward movements, as well as coughing, and/or sneezing.
- Numbness / Parathesia: Can radiate through the buttocks, and down the legs to the toes.
- Weakness: In your arms or legs
- Pins and needles: Along arms or legs
- Altered reflexes
Treatment of a disc prolapse
Physiotherapists many utilize a combination of treatments, including:
- Exercises – Strengthening, stretching, and flexibility, nerve flossing & biomechanical correction
- Acupuncture – used to stimulate a relaxation of tense muscles, can be very useful in treating nerve conditions and reducing inflammation
- Spinal Decompression Therapy – a safe non-invasive treatment technique, to treat conditions like disc prolapse. In spinal decompression, the spine is stretched and relaxed intermittently, therefore, a negative intradiscal pressure is produced to help the retraction of a prolapsed disc. This technique also helps the disc absorb nutrients which promotes the healing process. It is done in 30-50 minute sessions. At Ace Physiotherapy downtown Toronto we employ the Evolution DT® is the top of the line TRUE Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Table which uses cutting-edge computer technology to provide the best treatment unique to your needs. The sensitive biofeedback computer program provides the stretch that best suites you. The Evolution DT® is more efficient, safe and comfortable compared to other Spinal Decompression tables. It allows for you to feel relaxed during and even the treatment and results in the best outcomes.