Ruptured disc — causes and treatment for pain

A ruptured disc causes neck or back pain due to nerve compression. Laser Spine Institute can help your research.

A ruptured disc, also called a herniated disc, occurs when a tear develops in the outer layer of a spinal disc and pressure from the surrounding vertebrae causes the material from the disc’s nucleus to be pushed out. If you are dealing with chronic pain and limited mobility from this condition, and it is affecting your family, job and leisure activities, it is important to learn about the causes and treatment options for a ruptured disc. This information can help you work with your primary physician to develop a care plan that is best for you.

What causes a ruptured disc?

There are many causes of a ruptured disc, but the most common is the natural aging process. Years of constant use and stress eventually take their toll on the spine. Also, components of the spine tend to become drier with age and when the spinal discs dry out, they are more brittle and vulnerable to injury.

In addition the typical aging process, other underlying ruptured disc causes include:

  • Genetics. Some people are more genetically predisposed to ruptured discs and other spinal degeneration issues.
  • High-impact sports injuries. Sustaining a hard tackle on the football field or slamming into the boards during a hockey game can lead to spinal injury and weakened discs.
  • Physically demanding jobs. Repetitive lifting with improper technique, operating heavy machinery and even sedentary desk jobs can increase the chance of damaging spinal anatomy.
  • Unhealthy diet. If you take in too many calories, the resulting excess weight can place increased stress on your spine. Not getting enough water can also cause your discs to not receive the fluid they need to stay flexible and strong.
  • Tobacco and alcohol abuse. Both of these habits reduce blood circulation throughout the body and to the spine. This can decrease the nutrients and oxygen supplied for tissue repair and spinal health.

What treatment options are there?

Upon diagnosis of a ruptured disc, your physician will generally recommend conservative treatments such as rest, physical therapy, light exercise and pain medication. If these treatments prove unsuccessful after weeks or months, surgical options may then be explored. Traditional open back surgery for a ruptured disc is seen as a last-resort option because of the highly invasive nature of these procedures. Because a surgeon needs to use a large muscle-tearing incision to access the spine, a traditional open spine surgery usually requires an extended hospital stay and a lengthy rehabilitation period.

If you have been diagnosed with a ruptured disc, and you haven’t achieved satisfactory relief from your symptoms with conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open back procedures, using state-of-the-art technology to access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision. This means a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication for our patients.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute, reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review.*