posture contributes to disc prolapse especially in occupations
at risk e.g. computer operator, mechanics, painters…
sudden forward bending (flexion) of the neck, as occurs in whiplash
can result in disc prolapse.
are more prone to prolapse. As you get older, the nucleus degenerates
and becomes less pliable and therefore less effective as a cushion.
Just minor trauma can rupture the outer layer, causing prolapse.
In such patients, depending on the severity of trauma, there may
also be associated fractures of the spine.
can also cause a disc prolapse in patients with a pre-existing
condition, like cervical spondylosis.
IS THE PATIENT AFFECTED?
disc can press on nerves, producing:
affect the shoulder and arms. The doctor may see a change in the
reflexes, sensation and power in the arms because of the pressure
on the nerves.
is frequently associated, due to spasm of the muscles around the
the disc can also press on the spinal cord if it prolapses centrally.
Depending on the degree of compression, one may even develop weakness
of the legs, with difficulty walking and a stiff gait.
On other occasions,
a combination of spinal cord and nerve injury occurs, resulting
in a variable combination of the signs and symptoms discussed
IS IT DIAGNOSED?
the doctor will look at the location of the pain, assess muscle
weakness and look at the distribution of sensory loss and abnormal
reflexes in order to locate the level of disc herniation.
Tests to confirm
the diagnosis include:
X-Ray of the spine This
shows bony changes e.g. a co-existing fracture following injury.
Also shows instability of vertebrae from severe rupture of ligaments.
Bony spurs may be seen with chronic spondylosis. These occur with
age and, together with a prolapsed disc, may compromise a nerve
CT Scan; MRI Scan This gives a more detailed picture
of spinal cord, disc, ligaments and nerves and will identify a