What are the primary risk factors for a ruptured disc?

A ruptured disc, also known as a herniated disc, has several risk factors that can be controlled, including lifestyle choices, trauma and injury. The most common cause of this condition, however, is outside of our control: the natural aging process.

Age-related changes to the spine can cause the spinal discs to break down and rupture, which can lead to nerve compression and pain. By understanding how the aging process and other risk factors increase your chance of developing a ruptured disc, you may be able to make simple lifestyle changes to reduce your risk and possibly even avoid the condition altogether.

Can a ruptured disc be prevented?

Accidents, sudden injuries or genetic disorders are risk factors for a ruptured disc that cannot be foreseen or prevented. However, if a disc herniates or bulges due to gradual deterioration, there are a variety of things you can do to stop or slow the process.

For example, since damaged discs often have to do with a weakened disc wall, restoring some elasticity to the outer disc layer is crucial. In order for your disc to heal, you must promote overall spine health with the following daily choices:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stretch frequently
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat foods high in healthy oils and omega fatty acids, like salmon, avocado and nuts
  • Lose weight to relieve unnecessary pressure on your spine
  • Exercise to lose weight and strengthen your core muscles which support your spine

Make sure to talk to your physician before you start any exercise or diet routine to prevent strain or injury.

Resorption and ruptured discs

In many cases, ruptured discs can heal on their own through a process called resorption. When a disc herniates or ruptures and the inner fluid leaks from the disc wall, your body recognizes that fluid as a foreign substance that is meant to be contained. Your body starts breaking down the disc material that has extruded and reabsorbing it back into the bloodstream, allowing the disc to heal on its own.

While the disc is healing through the resorption process, your physician can prescribe pain medication or hot/cold therapy to help reduce your pain. Generally, the resorption process can take several weeks or months, during which your doctor should suggest you attempt conservative treatments like medication, spinal injections and physical therapy. If after this amount of time you are still in pain and your symptoms have not decreased, your doctor may recommend spine surgery.

Alternative treatment options for a ruptured disc

If your physician suggests you consider surgery for a ruptured disc, you should research the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.

We offer patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back procedures with our minimally invasive spine surgery.^ Unlike traditional open neck or back surgery that requires a large incision and the cutting and tearing of muscles around the spine, our minimally invasive procedures are performed through a small incision and move the muscles aside without any cutting or tearing.

Because of this careful approach to the spine, our patients can experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of infection and complication compared to patients who choose traditional open spine surgery.

Many patients can find relief through our minimally invasive decompression surgery, which removes a small piece of the ruptured disc that is pressing against the nerve root near the spine. In some cases when the ruptured disc is severely damaged in the spine, a stabilization surgery may be needed to fully replace a damaged disc.

For more information about our treatment options for ruptured discs, please contact Laser Spine Institute today. We are happy to offer a no-cost review of your MRI report or CT scan to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.*