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Treating a Slipped Disc

If medical professionals failed to treat your prolapsed disc and you went on to develop cauda equina complications, you could be entitled to claim compensation.

How to treat a prolapsed disc

In the majority of cases, the size of the prolapse will decrease over time, meaning a person’s symptoms will improve. In the meantime a patient should be advised to continue with normal activities. This differs from past advice, when patients were told to rest until the pain eased. Nevertheless, it is now known that immobility increases the risk of chronic back pain.

Attempting to resume normal activity with a prolapsed disc can of course be painful. Most patients will be prescribed painkillers, and some may be referred to a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath for manipulation treatments. It is thought this helps to relieve the pressure being placed upon the nerves, thereby reducing the level of pain.

Surgical treatment of a prolapsed disc

Ordinarily, the symptoms of a slipped disc will ease within a few months. However, around one in 10 people will continue to suffer severe pain after this date. These patients may then be considered for surgery. This is viewed as a last resort and should only be considered if the symptoms have not settled after a few months and other treatments have been tried.

If a patient is a candidate for surgery, an MRI scan must be carried out to determine the size and location of the prolapse. During an operation, the surgeon will use this information to cut out the prolapsed parts of the disc. A patient should subsequently notice an improvement in symptoms, although it is important to note that surgery does not work in every case.

Urgent treatment of a prolapsed disc

As long as the prolapsed disc is not pressing upon the cauda equina nerves, it is safe to wait several months to see if a patient’s symptoms improve. But if the slipped disc is compressing the cauda equina nerves, no time should be wasted in performing emergency decompression surgery. Ideally, this should be carried out 24 hours after the onset of symptoms.

If there is a delay in decompressing the cauda equina nerves, a patient may be left with permanent neurological complications. This can include paralysis, incontinence and sexual dysfunction. This will of course be devastating for a patient, and will be all the more upsetting if earlier treatment could have prevented these complications from developing.

If medical practitioners missed the opportunity to treat cauda equina syndrome, there may be a case of medical negligence.

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