Spinal problems -disc prolapse
A disc prolapse is caused by the disruption of the outer casing, called the annulus, of the disc. The inner disc material, the nucleus, is then able to escape into the spinal cord area behind. This is often compared to 'squeezing toothpaste out of a tube', where it can cause compression of single or multiple nerves.
In the lumbar spine nerve compression affecting one or both legs is called sciatica. In the neck pressure on nerves can cause pain in one or both arms and this is called brachial neuritis. Disc problems in the mid (dorsal spine) are much rarer, because the spine is supported by the ribs and chest muscles.
Some central disc prolapses when large in the neck can cause arm and leg symptoms. Large prolapses in the lumbar spine can cause bladder bowel and sexual dysfunction (known as cauda equina syndrome). These latter, require urgent investigation to prevent permanent nerve damage.
How disc problems should be dealt with very much depends on their severity and the effect they have on the patient.
Minor to medium disc problems can be treated by a combination of Osteopathic treatment and specific advice carefully adhered to by the patient. Usually 3-4 treatments over a period of 10-14 days will give both patient, and Osteopath, reasonable signs of improvement.
If the problem does not show progress over this period, you may need to have an MRI scan to see the extent of the prolapse and the effect on the nearby nerves. The opinion of a spinal surgeon may be needed.
Severe disc problems may be beyond the scope of Osteopathic treatment. They require urgent MRI and Surgical opinion, both of which Andrew Gilmour and Felix Cory-Wright can arrange.
From the practice in Melton, Woodbridge, Andrew Gilmour and Felix Cory-Wright are able to refer you for an MRI for £495 ( dec 2015) from Nuffield Health. For those willing to travel, an MRI scan at Vista Diagnostics in Waterloo can be obtained on referral for as little as £200 (February 2014).
Following an MRI scan it may be necessary to discuss your case with spinal surgeons or pain specialists and if necessary refer you on to them for appropriate treatment. This we do through the extended network of specialists we work with. This consultation process is invaluable in the treatment of severe, complex or persistent cases.