A prolapsed disc can occur anywhere throughout the spine, though most prolapsed discs occur in the lumbar area. The size of the bulge can also vary widely and, in general, patients who have experienced relatively large bulges in the disc are expected to experience more severe pain.
The spinal column is made up of individual bones known as vertebrae that are linked together one on top of the other, creating the spine. The spaces between these individual vertebrae are cushioned with pads of cartilage known as intervertebral discs. These soft and compressible discs not only act as shock absorbers, but they contribute to the overall flexibility of the spine. The discs themselves have a strong and fibrous outside layer that holds in the nucleus pulposus, which is the soft, jelly-like tissue on the inside. In patients with a prolapsed disc, which can also be referred to as herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc, the nucleus pulposus herniates through a weak area in the outer later of the disc. This bulge then puts pressure onto the other structures that make up the spinal column.
Individuals whose pain does not respond to over-the-counter remedies may wish to speak to their doctor about prescribing codeine to help manage their pain. Codeine, an opiod, whose pain-relieving effects arise by binding to the opioid receptors within the brain. Studies have provided ample support for the use of opioids in short-term relief of sudden-onset, severe pain; however, concerns related to the misuse and abuse of this medication suggest that long-term use of opioids for managing pain is not advisable.
Patients with chronic and severe back pain that persists following a failed surgery may wish to try more aggressive forms of pain management. For instance, epidural steroid injections have been shown to be successful in providing patients with significant reductions in pain. Further, TENS units, which are devices that deliver a very mild electrical stimulation to the affected area, have also received some support for their usefulness in providing pain relief. Additionally, there is some indication that patients can experience a significant reduction in pain with spinal cord stimulation. This procedure involves implanting a device near the spinal column that delivers electrical impulses to control the transmission of pain signals from the nerves within the spine.
Complementary therapies have also shown promise for patients with a prolapsed disc. Techniques, such as acupuncture,
when done in combination with other forms of pain treatment, can be extremely beneficial.
Prolapsed disc is a chronic pain condition that arises due to changes in the intervertebral discs within the spine. Resulting from injury or weakness due to aging, the nucleus pulposus can bulge out through the fibrous outer layer, causing the disc to compress a nearby nerve leading to pain in the back and neck. There are a number of treatment options available for managing the symptoms associated with a prolapsed disc. Patients are encouraged to attempt conservative, at-home techniques as a first-line treatment for managing pain. However, if your symptoms persist or worsen, or if they are severe and debilitating, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor about more aggressive forms of pain management.
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