Disc Prolapse

Some prolapsed discs cause no symptoms. However, when a prolapsed disc traps a spinal cord nerve, nerve root pain can extend from the back, down the leg, and all the way to the foot. Pain can range from mild to severe. The most commonly affected nerve in this type of situation is the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica. Pressure on the nerve also can cause tingling, numbness or weakness anywhere along the nerve. In extremely rare circumstances, a prolapsed disc can trap the nerve at the bottom of the spinal cord, causing cauda equina syndrome, which requires emergency medical attention. Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include problems with bladder and bowel control, numbness, and weakness in the legs. For non-emergent prolapsed discs, treatment often includes remaining active while refraining from doing anything that causes a lot of pain. Physical therapy also may be beneficial to strengthen the back muscles and core, alleviate nerve pain, and teach proper form and posture. Staying active and maintaining a healthy body weight may be helpful in preventing prolapse from occurring in another disc. If symptoms have not abated within two eight weeks, surgery to remove the prolapsed portion of the disc may be an option.