Types of collapsed discs by location in the spine

There are a few types of collapsed discs that can affect the spine, but those involving the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions are both the most common and the most readily treatable. Collapsed discs can also affect the thoracic (middle) region of the spine, but are relatively rare compared to the other two areas.

Regardless of type, the most commonly reported symptoms of a collapsed disc are pain, numbness, tingling and decreased muscle functioning in the extremities.

What distinguishes the different types of collapsed discs?

The main difference between cervical and lumbar collapsed discs is the location of symptoms reported by the patient. Cervical collapsed discs generally cause symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and/or fingers. Some patients also report having headaches.

Collapsed discs affecting the lumbar region of the spine typically produce symptoms in the lower body, such as the buttocks, legs, feet and/or toes. One common consequence of a collapsed lumbar disc is sciatica, which are symptoms affecting the long sciatic nerve that travels into the lower body.

Collapsed disc treatment

Upon diagnosis of a collapsed disc, most doctors will recommend an initial course of conservative treatments to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Although everyone is different, rest, medication, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, alternating use of a heating pad and an ice pack and posture improvement are often recommended. It is also important to take any necessary lifestyle steps, such as eating a healthier diet or quitting smoking, which can contribute to overall health and the health of your spine.

If you have exhausted conservative treatment options but have concerns about undergoing spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^ Our highly skilled surgeons can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, which allows for a streamlined outpatient experience.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, ask for your free MRI review* from a member of our caring and dedicated team.