Also known as a herniated, slipped, or ruptured disc, a torn disc is a condition in which the outer layer of one of the intervertebral discs that cushion vertebrae in the spine tears and allows the jelly-like inner layer of that disc to leak out.
Symptoms of a torn disc include:
- Pain in the neck or back
- Tingling or “pins and needles”
- Muscle cramping or spasms
The area of the body in which symptoms manifest themselves depends on the location of the torn disc. For example, a torn disc in the lumbar spine, which includes L1-L5 vertebrae and is more commonly known as the lower back, would result in symptoms experienced in the lower back, buttocks, leg, and foot, since the nerves in the lumbar spine are responsible for transmitting signals to these areas.
Causes of a Torn Disc
The causes of a torn disc are varied, but the most common include:
- Car accident – During a physically traumatic event such as an auto accident, the spine can be compressed to the point that spinal discs are stretched beyond capacity, and this pressure can be severe enough to make even a healthy disc rupture.
- Sports injury – Even seemingly harmless motions such as running can wear on spinal discs, weakening them over time and making them more likely to tear. Rough sports like rugby and football can exacerbate this wear and tear.
- Age-related degeneration – As we get older, the spinal discs begin to lose water and become more brittle, making them more prone to cracking and splitting.
Treatments for a Torn Disc
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of a torn disc, then it’s important to see a doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis and to begin a treatment regimen. Although in most cases a torn disc simply requires time to heal, there are a number of ways to help alleviate the symptoms caused by it and continue to live a happy life while recovering. Conservative treatments for a torn disc include:
- Heat and cold therapy
- Physical therapy
- Weight loss
- Steroid injections
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
For more information on torn disc symptoms and treatments, including the endoscopic procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today. We’ll review your MRI or CT scan free of charge and determine your eligibility for one of our procedures.