What is a ruptured disc?

A ruptured disc describes a pad between the vertebral bodies where material can protrude as a result of degeneration, disease or injury. The condition can occur anywhere along the spine, although it is most common in the cervical (neck) regions and lumbar (lower back). The spine’s discs, which are located between the vertebrae, act as shock absorbers for the various pressures put on our neck and back each day.

Over time, the discs will start to break down and can lead to age-related conditions such as degenerative disc disease. When speaking to friends and family about your condition, you might hear other terms used interchangeably with a ruptured disc, such as a herniated disc, bulging disc or slipped disc. However, this can be misleading, so you should always consult your doctor for clarification. Read on to learn about ruptured disc symptoms and treatment options available to relieve your condition.

Ruptured disc symptoms

When a disc becomes damaged, either due to gradual degeneration or a strain, the outer layer known as the annulus fibrosus can break open and push out its nucleus pulposus, the disc’s inner gel-like material. When this occurs, pressure can be put on nerve roots exiting the spinal cord or on the spinal cord itself, causing pain and other disabling symptoms in the cervical and lumbar spine.

Symptoms of a ruptured disc include:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling

Ruptured disc treatment options

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor to determine whether or not the pain you feel is caused by a ruptured disc. When diagnosing a ruptured disc, your health care provider likely will perform a physical exam and may order a CT scan or MRI to confirm the existence of a ruptured disc. Treatment options could include over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and epidural steroid injections.

Some patients may need more than conservative treatments to relieve their symptoms if their pain and discomfort persist after several weeks or months. For those individuals, there are other options available for ruptured disc pain relief, such as the minimally invasive spine surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about the procedures we perform to treat chronic neck and back pain.

Our outpatient procedures can remove ruptured disc material and add additional stabilization to provide lasting relief from a ruptured disc. These techniques are performed through a muscle-sparing small incision, that results in a shorter recovery compared to other treatments like traditional open neck and back 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. Reach out to our dedicated team for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient procedures and to receive more information about our facilities.