Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Prolapsed Disk Overview

Another name for Prolapsed Disk is Herniated Disk.

What is a herniated disk?
A person with a herniated disk has weakness in the outer wall of a disk in the spine. This allows the soft tissue that makes up the inside of the disk to push against the weakened wall. As a result, a bulge forms in the side of the disk. The bulge becomes more prominent when the disk is under stress, during lifting, or twisting of the spine. Sometimes, the bulge can place pressure on the nerves in the spinal canal. About 90 percent of disk herniations occur in the lower back, but they also occur in the neck.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disk?
Symptoms of a herniated disk depend on the location in the spine. Symptoms of a herniated disk in the lower back include back pain that may travel down the leg, leg pain, foot numbness, foot weakness, and difficulty walking. Symptoms of a herniated disk in the neck include neck pain that may travel down one or both arms. Other symptoms include arm pain, arm numbness, hand numbness, arm weakness, and hand weakness.

How does the doctor treat a herniated disk?
Treatment for a herniated disk includes rest, stretching exercises, physical therapy, muscle relaxants, pain medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Additional treatment may include corticosteroids and surgery.

Continue to Prolapsed Disk Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 19, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Prolapsed Disk References
  1. Barrett PH, Beck A, Schmid K, Fireman B, Brown JB. Treatment decisions about lumbar herniated disk in a shared decision-making program. Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 2002 May;28(5):211-9. [12053454]
  2. Humphreys SC, Eck JC. Clinical evaluation and treatment options for herniated lumbar disc. Am Fam Physician. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):575-82, 587-8. [10029785]
  3. Ito T, Takano Y, Yuasa N. Types of lumbar herniated disc and clinical course. Spine. 2001 Mar 15;26(6):648-51. [11246377]
  4. Spencer DL. The anatomical basis of sciatica secondary to herniated lumbar disc: a review. Neurol Res. 1999;21 Suppl 1:S33-6. [10214569]
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