What causes a ruptured disc and what are the treatment options?

Also known as a herniated disc, a ruptured disc can have a wide range of contributing factors, but the natural aging process is probably the most significant. A healthy spinal disc absorbs shock and pressure from the surrounding vertebrae, allowing the spine to flex and twist smoothly. A spinal disc consists of a tough outer wall of cartilage and a gel-like inner material. Like other parts of the body, these discs dehydrate with age, which causes them to lose their elasticity.

As the surrounding vertebrae continue to rely on a degenerating disc that can no longer support itself, the disc’s center can push outward against the fragile outer wall. A ruptured disc can occur when the inner disc material leaks out of a crack or tear in the outer wall and into the spinal column.

A ruptured disc can lead to potentially debilitating symptoms that can take you away from the people and activities you love, but it is possible to find effective treatment. A great first step is educating yourself as a patient to become more involved with your care. The following information can give you a better understanding of this condition so you can find the relief you deserve. Laser Spine Institute also invites you to contact our caring and dedicated team if you have any questions or would like to learn more about your treatment options.

Other causes of a ruptured disc

In addition to the natural aging process, the following factors can significantly contribute to the development of a ruptured spinal disc:

  • Vibrations. People who are exposed to prolonged vibrations, such as truck drivers or construction workers, may be more likely to develop a ruptured disc.
  • Sports. Forceful impact or repetitive twisting on the neck and back while playing sports can lead to a torn disc.
  • Lifting. Poor lifting habits, like lifting with your legs instead of your back, puts undue stress on the lumbar (lower) region of the spine, particularly the discs.
  • Lifestyle habits. Obesity may contribute to disc degeneration because the spine must compensate for the extra weight. Cigarette smoking can release toxins into the body that speed up the breakdown of cartilage while decreasing the nutrient supply to spinal discs.
  • Genetics. Some may be predisposed to disc degeneration, especially if spinal problems run in the family.

Treatment for a ruptured disc

Pain from a ruptured disc is usually the result of displaced disc material compressing the spinal cord or a nerve root. Upon diagnosis, most physicians will recommend a course of conservative treatment to relieve symptoms and help regain lost mobility.

If a ruptured disc is causing you pain and methods such as medication, chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy have not provided you with acceptable relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures. We perform outpatient procedures using a small muscle-sparing incision that helps our patients avoid hospital-associated costs and enjoy a shorter recovery period.^

Reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.