A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc, has many of the same risk factors as a bulging disc. Both involve the protrusion of disc material into the spinal canal, though a herniated disc means the outer disc wall has actually torn and leaked the inner nucleus material, whereas a bulging disc is still intact but has been forced outside of its normal boundary. Bulging and herniated discs are commonly caused by aging and the natural degenerative process. In fact, millions of people probably have damaged intervertebral discs, but are completely asymptomatic because the disc material is not exerting pressure on any spinal nerves.
Can a Ruptured Disc Be Prevented?
Accidents, sudden injuries, or genetic disorders are clearly risk factors that cannot be foreseen or prevented. However, if a disc herniates or bulges due to gradual deterioration, there are a variety of things you can do to stop or slow the process. Since damaged discs often have to do with a weakened disc wall, restoring some elasticity is crucial. Try to drink plenty of water, stretch frequently, stop smoking, and eat foods like salmon and nuts that are high in healthy oils like omega fatty acids. Dark, leafy greens are also high in antioxidants, which can stop free radicals from damaging your body’s tissues. Additionally, dropping a few pounds means that there is less spinal pressure on your brittle discs. Make sure to talk to your doctor before you embark on any routine of exercise or diet.
Resorption and Ruptured Discs
In many cases, ruptured discs can heal on their own. Pain medication, hot/cold therapy, and gentle physical therapy, can aid in the process of “resorption.” When a disc herniated and the inner fluid leaks from the disc wall, your body recognized that fluid as a foreign substance since the fluid is meant to be contained. Your body starts breaking down the disc material that has extruded and reabsorbing it back into the bloodstream.
Alternative Treatment Options for a Ruptured Disc
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a herniated disc and your symptoms of numbness, pain, and tingling have lasted for longer than three months despite non-operative treatment, you have developed a chronic problem. If your doctor suggests that you consider surgery, make sure you know that there are alternatives to traditional surgeries like spinal fusion or disc replacement surgery. Laser Spine Institute is at the forefront of minimally invasive surgery. Endoscopic techniques allow the Laser Spine Institute medical team to gently and effectively address ruptured discs, without the trauma, hospitalization, and lengthy recuperation of open spine surgeries. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about ruptured disc risk factors.