What should I do if I think I have a collapsed disc?

The term collapsed disc is used to describe the loss of a spinal disc’s height and regular shape. This condition doesn’t necessarily cause symptoms unless disc material causes spinal narrowing and nerve compression. While some patients remain completely unaware of these spinal conditions because they experience no symptoms, others can endure neck and back pain for weeks, months or years.

If you are dealing with debilitating neck or back pain that is accompanied by radiating symptoms in other locations, you may be wondering if the collapsed disc is causing your pain. It can be helpful and relieve anxiety to have a better understanding of what diagnosis and treatment of this condition involves as you reach out to your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

How doctors diagnose a collapsed disc

Anyone who experiences chronic pain or discomfort in their neck or back and thinks it may be due to a collapsed disc should visit a primary care physician to receive a proper diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. During your office visit, a doctor will typically take the following steps to reach a diagnosis:

  • Medical history evaluation
  • Physical exam
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • X-ray
  • Discography
  • Blood tests

Once your physician has a firm diagnosis, conservative treatments will typically be prescribed. This may include prescription or over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and hot or cold compresses. Advanced treatment, such as traditional open back surgery, is typically reserved for patients who don’t find the relief they need from conservative treatment.

When to consider surgery

If you have been recommended for surgery, you should be sure to explore the full range of surgical treatment possible. The outpatient procedures performed by Laser Spine Institute are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spinal surgery, helping our patients experience less risk of complication and a faster recovery time.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.