Ruptured disc causes vary from aging, to disease, to a mild or severe spinal injury. Any of these situations can result in a weakening of an intervertebral disc to the point that the disc ruptures.
When they’re healthy, your vertebral bones allow your spine to flex, rotate, twist, and extend freely thanks to the help of spongy, round discs located between the vertebrae. Each intervertebral disc has a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus that surrounds the nucleus pulposus, a gel-like substance located inside. Over time, the nucleus begins to lose its fluid content, which reduces its ability to act as a shock absorber to the various pressures we put on our back and neck each day.
When there is a breakdown of these discs, either due to aging, injury, or a condition called degenerative disc disease, the annulus fibrosus tears, or ruptures, pushing the nucleus out into the spinal canal.
Other ruptured disc causes include:
- General wear and tear
- Sudden twisting movement
- Repeated improper lifting
- Sports-related injuries
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sudden, heavy, increased pressure to the lower back
A ruptured disc diagnosis can be tricky because the symptoms closely mimic those of facet disease, or the deterioration of the facet joints, which are located between, and behind, your spine’s vertebra.
If you’re experiencing any of the following ruptured disc symptoms, contact your healthcare provider:
- Pain that radiates from the back or neck to other areas of your body
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle spasms
- Pain in the shoulders, arms, hands, or chest
- Pain in the lower back, hips, legs, or feet
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Loss of bowel or bladder or control, which indicates a medical emergency called cauda equina syndrome, requiring immediate medical attention
Your doctor can diagnose your symptoms after he or she takes a medical history, conducts a physical exam, and sends you for imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI. Once your physician has arrived at a ruptured disc diagnosis, the recommended treatments are typically rest, medication, special exercises, and physical therapy. For some people, a herniated disc heals on its own as the body absorbs loose disc material in the spinal column.
In some cases, surgery is necessary to address ruptured disc symptoms that are severe and unrelenting. If your ruptured disc requires surgery, consider the minimally invasive endoscopic procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our revolutionary outpatient procedures can help you regain your quality of life in as little as a week, , thanks to our fast recovery times, reduced risk, and high success rates. Contact us today for a free MRI or CT scan review, and to learn more information about our facilities.