A collapsed disc occurs when a spinal disc loses height or becomes misshapen. This deformity can occur as the result of a number of spinal conditions, including bulging or herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. When a disc loses height, the distance separating adjacent vertebrae (the bony structures in the neck and back) decreases, and a spinal nerve or the spinal cord may become impinged.
When neural tissue is compressed, you may experience pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the neck, back or extremities. Fortunately, you should be able to find relief from these symptoms with medication and other conservative treatments.
Most doctors begin treatment of symptoms caused by a collapsed disc with medication. These may include one or more of the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — These medications can provide relief by reducing inflammation, which may help to relieve pressure placed on a compressed spinal nerve.
- Corticosteroid injections — Like NSAIDs, these medications help to reduce the pressure placed on an impinged nerve by reducing inflammation. This approach, however, involves injecting the drug directly into the affected area. Steroid injections often provide relief for weeks or even months.
- Antidepressants — Patients with a collapsed disc may become depressed because of the lifestyle changes that chronic pain can cause (such as the inability to work or a reduced sex drive). Some physicians may prescribe antidepressants to help patients cope with these changes. Some antidepressant medications are also believed to raise natural pain tolerance.
Prescription pain medications and other conservative treatments, such as hot and/or cold therapy, intermittent rest and physical therapy, may also be prescribed. It’s always imperative that you consult your physician before starting any new medication or treatment method.
Effective outpatient procedures
If you fail to respond to these noninvasive treatments, you may require surgery to treat your collapsed disc. However, you may not need to automatically submit to a highly invasive open spine surgery. The minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute are more effective§ alternatives to traditional open spine surgery when treating collapsed discs. These outpatient procedures offer many benefits, such as small incisions, no unnecessary muscle tearing, and faster recoveries. Contact Laser Spine Institute for additional information and for a review of your MRI report or CT scan to determine if you are a candidate for one of our innovative procedures.