What is a Ruptured Disc?

ruptured disc

A ruptured disc can occur anywhere along the spine. It is most common, however, in the lumbar (lower back) and the cervical (neck) areas.

A ruptured disc typically results from age-related wear and tear, but disc ruptures can also be caused by disease or injury. When speaking to friends and family about your condition, you might hear other terms used interchangeably with ruptured disc –such as herniated disc, bulging disc or slipped disc – but this can be misleading, so you should always consult your physician for clarification.

The spine’s discs, which are located between the vertebrae, act as shock absorbers for the various pressures put on the neck and back each day. Over time, the disc will start to break down and can lead to age-related conditions, such as degenerative disc disease.

When a disc becomes damaged, either due to gradual degeneration or a strain, the outer layer, known as the annulus fibrosus can break open and push out its nucleus pulposus, the disc’s shock absorbing, jelly-like material. When this occurs, pressure can be put on nerve roots exiting the spinal cord or on the spinal cord itself, causing pain and other disabling symptoms.

Symptoms of a ruptured disc include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Loss of movement

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your physician. He or she will be able to determine whether or not the pain you feel is caused by a ruptured disc. When diagnosing a ruptured disc,your health care provider likely will perform a physical exam and may order a CT scan or MRI to confirm the existence of a ruptured disc. Treatment options could include over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, physical therapy and modified activity.

Some patients may need more than conservative treatments to relieve their symptoms and allow them to live life to the fullest. There are other options available for ruptured disc pain relief, including the state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. With a quicker recuperation period than other treatments like open back surgery, our outpatient procedures can remove ruptured disc material and help you return to exercising, playing with your kids, working and other daily activities. Contact us today for a review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information about our facility.