Disc pain overview

Spinal disc pain affects millions of people throughout the world. It can also be difficult to diagnose because damage to your spinal discs can often cause a gradual and progressive onset of symptoms. Additionally, symptoms can radiate to other parts of the body. This is due to nerve compression by a disc which can cause tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the upper or lower extremities.

If your life is affected by disc pain, learning about the causes can be an important step toward getting the treatment you need. Spinal discs are soft, springy pads located between the vertebrae in the spine. These discs absorb tension and pressure from everyday body movements. Like the rest of the body, these discs tend to weaken as years go by, making it harder for them to keep their strength and shape.

Causes of disc pain

Discs are located near sensitive nerve tissue in the spinal column, including the spinal cord and its nerve roots. Pain and other symptoms can result if a damaged disc narrows a nerve passageway and compresses a spinal nerve.

Common causes of disc pain can include:

  • Bulging disc pain — when a disc weakens and extends beyond its normal perimeter
  • Herniated disc pain — when the outer wall of a disc ruptures, causing inner material to enter the spinal canal
  • Degenerative disc pain — involves weakened discs due to aging, causing them to become thinner and less resilient to pressure
  • Spinal stenosis pain — the narrowing of the spinal column, primarily caused by any of the above conditions

Treatment options for disc pain

Although your disc pain may prompt you to explore surgical treatment, surgery should not be considered unless you have first tried a conservative course of disc pain treatment. Your physician should be able to prescribe methods like medication, chiropractic care, gentle stretching, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. If disc pain persists or becomes more severe after weeks or months of conservative treatment, remember — there are options other than traditional open back surgery.

Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive spine surgery that has helped more than 75,000 people find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Our outpatient procedures are an alternative to traditional open back surgery and its many disadvantages, like a large incision, extended hospitalization and long recuperation period.^

Contact us for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine procedures.