How to treat a collapsed disc

A collapsed disc occurs when a spinal disc begins to lose height, which is typically related to a condition called degenerative disc disease. When a disc loses its height, the space between the vertebrae can become smaller, potentially causing a nerve root or the spinal cord to be compressed.

Symptoms of a collapsed disc

A collapsed disc only causes symptoms when a spinal nerve or the spinal cord becomes pinched or compressed. Patients with a pinched spinal nerve may experience symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and muscle spasms. These symptoms can be felt in the neck, back or extremities, depending on which region of the spine contains the compressed nerve.

Treatments for a collapsed disc

After diagnosing the condition, most doctors will begin treatment of a symptomatic collapsed disc with one or more of the following conservative treatments:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medication, both prescription and over-the-counter
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Moderate exercise
  • Intermittent rest
  • Spinal injections
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Lifestyle changes like weight loss, posture improvement and quitting smoking

Some patients also benefit from alternative therapies such as Pilates, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic medicine and massage therapy. Patients should discuss medication and exercise programs with their doctors before undergoing surgical intervention to reduce the risk of serious complications or further injury inherent in surgery. In many cases, people dealing with debilitating pain and other symptoms from a collapsed disc are able to find the relief they need by finding the right combination of nonsurgical treatments to relieve pain and improve range of motion.

When to consider collapsed disc surgery

If conservative and alternative treatments are unable to provide long-term relief, surgery can become an option. The outpatient procedures performed by the orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at Laser Spine Institute use minimally invasive technology that allows for a streamlined outpatient experience. Our procedures require a smaller incision than traditional open back surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^ Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information.

A member of our caring team will be glad to help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.