Collapsed disc causes

Learn more with Laser Spine Institute's guide to collapsed disc causes.

A collapsed disc is a disc that loses its height over time. While there are other causes of a collapsed disc, the primary reason is something that cannot be controlled — age.

As you age, the discs in your spine lose water content and can get thinner and weaker. The elasticity in the outer layer of the disc begins to wear down, making the disc more susceptible to flattening and expanding. Because discs are responsible for spacing and supporting the vertebrae, a collapsed disc may cause the vertebrae to collide and can result in the following conditions:

  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Bone spurs
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis

Even though age is the main cause of a collapsed disc, there are other risk factors that can contribute to the development of this condition. Such factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor posture
  • Abuse of alcohol or tobacco
  • High-impact sports

Symptoms of a collapsed disc

A collapsed disc can result in symptoms when the damaged disc expands and touches a local nerve root. The symptoms of these conditions are typically centralized to the location of the pinched nerve, but may also radiate along the nerve pathway from the spine to the closest extremity. These symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

Treatment for a collapsed disc

While you cannot prevent the aging process, there are ways to manage symptoms of degenerative disc conditions.

Typically, nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain medication, hot/cold therapy and others are very effective in easing the pain and other symptoms associated with a damaged disc. These treatments generally take several months to be fully effective against the pain and symptoms you are experiencing.

However, if you have not found relief after months of conservative treatment, your physician may recommend spine surgery to ease your pain. Before you commit to surgery, research the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures offer patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery by offering a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of infection or complication.

For patients with damaged discs, a minimally invasive decompression or stabilization surgery may be your best treatment option. Both procedures work to treat the condition by removing the pressure from the damaged disc on the pinched nerve. For many patients, removing just a small portion of the collapsed disc through a decompression surgery is all that is needed to help treat the condition. However, if the disc is so collapsed that the stability of the spine is jeopardized, a stabilization surgery may be needed to insert an artificial disc in the damaged disc’s place.

Take the next step toward pain relief and contact Laser Spine Institute for a review of your MRI or CT scan today.