Causes and symptoms of a ruptured disc

A ruptured disc is a relatively common condition that affects the cushioning discs that sit between pairs of vertebrae. These spinal discs are comprised of a soft, gel-like interior encased by a tough outer layer. A disc is considered ruptured when its outer layer develops a tear, allowing the soft inner material to ooze out into the spinal canal. Read on to learn about the causes, symptoms and treatment methods available for this debilitating condition.

Ruptured disc causes

The body’s natural aging process is most often the cause of a ruptured disc, as degenerating discs are more vulnerable to tears. Years of wear take its toll on the spine, which is tasked with bearing the weight of the body and facilitating motion. Ruptured discs aren’t always a byproduct of aging, however.

Here are a few other causes of ruptured discs in young adults:

  • Injuries from sports, high-impact activities or experiencing trauma like a car accident
  • Genetic predispositions to spinal conditions
  • Physically demanding jobs that involve lifting, operating heavy machinery or hours of sitting (which can place a lot of strain on the spine)
  • Obesity places additional pressure on the spine, increasing the risk of disc injuries and other painful conditions

The symptoms of a ruptured disc

The symptoms of ruptured discs vary considerably according to the location and extent of the herniation, as well as the overall health of the patient. For example, a cervical (neck) ruptured disc may prompt pain that travels to the arms, hands and fingers. A lumbar (lower back) ruptured disc can cause pain that radiates in the legs, feet and toes. The severity of symptoms will also depend on how much the displaced disc material interferes with nerve roots or the spinal cord.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Pain around the herniated disc itself
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Sciatica

Ruptured disc treatment

Many patients can effectively manage their symptoms through conservative treatments such as pain medication, physical therapy, heat massages, range of motion exercises, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation and epidural steroid injections. However, others require surgical intervention to relieve pressure on the nerve root or create more space for the nerves. If this is the case, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the procedures that we offer and the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Our outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgeries,^ which require large incisions and extended recovery periods. The team of dedicated surgeons at Laser Spine Institute use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to reduce scarring after surgery.

To find if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive ruptured disc procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost MRI review.* We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.