What is a ruptured disc?

A ruptured disc, which is also called a torn disc or herniated disc, is a relatively common condition that can develop in the neck or back in patients of nearly any age, but it is most common as people reach middle age. In a healthy spine, discs act like shock absorbers and cushion the vertebral bones in the spinal column. These discs have a thick outer wall known as the annulus fibrosus and gel-like core material, which is called the nucleus pulposus. A ruptured disc occurs when a tear develops in the annulus fibrosus, which may allow the nucleus pulposus to seep out of the disc.

There are many potential causes of a ruptured disc. In younger people, this condition frequently develops as a result of a traumatic injury or sports-related injury. People who have careers that require frequent bending and lifting are more at risk for a ruptured disc than the average person. Additionally, ruptured discs are frequently diagnosed in patients later in life as a result of years of wear and tear.

What are the symptoms of a ruptured disc and how do you treat it?

A ruptured disc can cause a variety of different symptoms depending on the location and severity of the condition.

Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic localized pain in the neck or back
  • Pain that radiates along the length of a nerve root being compressed by the disc
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness

Torn disc treatment can be attempted many different ways. In most cases, patients are first provided with a personalized treatment plan that entails a variety of conservative methods designed to alleviate pain and improve spine health. This plan might include the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, a number of stretching exercises, physical therapy and other recommendations. Many patients also rely on complementary or alternative treatments like deep tissue massage, chiropractic care and herbal remedies as a type of torn disc treatment.

What about surgery?

In the event that several weeks or months of conservative treatment fail to deliver the results that you expect, surgery might be considered. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform several minimally invasive procedures on an outpatient basis that have a shorter recovery time^ than open spine surgery. To see if you might be a candidate, contact us today.