A torn disc in the back is a fairly common occurrence. The condition affects a weakened disc of cartilage that is located between two vertebrae in the spine. Intervertebral discs act as pliable shock absorbers for our bodies and allow our spines to be incredibly flexible. However, a disc can lose its characteristic sponginess and stability over time due to age-related dehydration, and may become susceptible to bulging and tearing. A bulge may occur if the nucleus pulposus, or the gel-like inner material of the disc, pushes outward against the weakened exterior wall (annulus fibrosus). The resulting bulge can enter the spinal canal. A torn disc takes it one step further and occurs when the nucleus pulposus leaks out of a cracked or torn annulus fibrosus.
Where Can A Torn Disc Occur in the Spine?
The spine has three regions: the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid-back), and lumbar (lower back). A torn disc, also known as a herniated or ruptured disc, may occur in any of these regions, but the cervical and lumbar regions are the most common locations for the condition to develop. This is due to the wide range of motion the neck and lower back have, as well as the amount of pressure the body’s weight exerts on these regions. The thoracic region, in contrast, is not required to be as flexible as the rest of the spine, and is connected to and supported by the rib cage.
A torn disc may only be painful if it compresses, or impinges upon, the spinal cord or surrounding nerve roots. In the cervical (neck) region, nerve compression may cause pain directly at the site of impingement, as well as pain, weakness, numbness, muscle spasms, and tingling radiating down the one or both of the shoulder blades, arms, and hands. A torn disc in the lumbar region may manifest the same type of symptoms in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet.
Laser Spine Institute
If you are experiencing pain from a torn disc and nerve compression in your back, contact Laser Spine Institute and schedule a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan. Our orthopedic specialists will take the time to discuss your condition and the types of minimally invasive treatment options we offer. Our outpatient procedures have helped tens of thousands of people find relief from neck and back pain.