Let’s explore what causes a ruptured disc, which is one of many spinal conditions and a fairly common one at that. Also known as a torn or herniated disc, a ruptured disc can occur for several reasons, but the most prevalent cause is aging.
Each healthy disc in our spine starts out well-hydrated and spongy, serving as the spine’s shock absorbers throughout our life. An intervertebral disc consists of a sturdy outer wall of cartilage called the annulus fibrosus and gel-like inner material called the nucleus pulposus. In a process that occurs naturally over time, these discs dehydrate, which causes them to lose their elasticity and dry out. This can make them susceptible to bulging or cracking. As the surrounding vertebrae continue to exert pressure upon a degenerating disc that can no longer support itself, the nucleus pulposus can shift outward and push against the fragile outer wall. A ruptured disc can occur when the inner material leaks out of a cracked or torn outer wall and into the spinal canal.
- Vibrations – People who are exposed to prolonged periods of vibrations, such as truck drivers or construction workers, may be more likely to develop a ruptured disc because their spines are absorbing shock constantly each day.
- Sports – Forceful impacts on the neck and back while playing sports can lead to a torn intervertebral disc.
- Lifting – Poor lifting habits, or lifting with your back instead of with your legs, puts undue stress on the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine.
- Lifestyle habits – Obesity may contribute to disc degeneration as the spine must compensate for the extra weight being carried around. Cigarette smoking can release toxins into the body that speed up the breakdown of cartilage.
- Genetics – Some people are predisposed to disc degeneration if spinal problems run in the family.
If you are in pain
If a ruptured disc is causing you pain and medications, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy have not provided you with relief, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures. We offer a number of outpatient procedures that can help you find meaningful relief from neck and back pain. Plus, we’ll review your MRI or CT scan at no cost to you.