The term “collapsed disc” is not an accepted medical term. It is a common colloquialism that is used to describe conditions that affect the intervertebral discs and cause the space between vertebrae to diminish. This term is usually used to describe a herniated disc, a bulging disc, or degenerative disc disease.
If neural tissue is not compressed, no symptoms are produced. When a disc collapses and causes compression of a spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself, patients can experience a number of symptoms, including:
- Pain in the neck, back and/or extremities
- Weakness or complete loss of muscular function
- Muscle spasms
These symptoms vary in severity directly as the severity of neural compression. Symptoms may be experienced in different parts of the body, depending on the location of the compressed nerve. A pinched nerve in the cervical (neck) region of the spine, for instance, may cause the above symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands, while a pinched nerve in the thoracic (middle) region of the spine may cause discomfort in the ribs and torso. Collapsed discs are most common in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine since this area is responsible for supporting the majority of a person’s weight. A collapsed disc in the lumbar region typically causes symptoms in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet.
These symptoms are usually alleviated with conservative treatments such as rest, pain medications, steroidal spine injections, and moderate exercise. Patients who continue to experience the symptoms of a collapsed disc despite months of conservative therapy may require surgery. They should determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible to decrease the risk of untoward surgical outcomes. Minimally invasive outpatient procedures, such as those performed by surgeons at Laser Spine Institute, should be carefully considered. Our safe and effective endoscopic procedures present fewer complications than traditional open back surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more and to schedule a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.