Torn disc prevention and treatment

A torn disc is a disc in the spine that has been damaged due to the constant pressure of the surrounding vertebrae or the wear and tear over years of high-intensity activities and repetitive motions. Most commonly, it is a disc that has suffered damage due to the natural aging process of the spine.

As we grow older, our bodies experience a great deal of wear and tear, and the neck and back are no exception. After years of carrying body weight and supporting everyday activities such as sitting, standing and walking, as well as physical activities, the spine begins to break down. As the body endures this stress, the discs begin to lose water content and flexibility, causing them to provide less support to the vertebrae (the bony structures in the neck and back). These degenerative changes can leave a disc susceptible to developing a tear or other degenerative disc disease.

However, because a torn disc can be created by the natural wear and tear of the spine, there are certain lifestyle changes that can help prevent or delay the development of this condition.

How to prevent a disc tear

While no one can avoid aging, there are certain things a person can do to promote a healthy spine and avoid painful symptoms of a torn disc. Those who are concerned about disc health should try the following lifestyle changes:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet, rich in omega-3s
  • Avoid occupations that require heavy lifting or constant twisting, bending or sitting

Complete prevention of a torn disc is not always possible, but even small lifestyle changes can help strengthen your spine and delay the onset of this condition and decrease the severity of it. If you need help accomplishing any of these changes, a physician can help you plan for a healthier lifestyle.

Treatment for a torn disc

If a torn disc has already developed, a number of treatment options are available. Most physicians begin treatment for this spinal condition through conservative means, such as over-the-counter pain medications and physical therapy. This allows the spine to lengthen and stretch, allowing the disc the space to heal.

While this is a common method of treatment for mildly torn discs, more severely torn discs may require surgical treatment.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer two types of minimally invasive spine surgery to treat a torn disc: minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization. During our minimally invasive decompression surgery, the surgeon will relieve pressure on the pinched nerve root by removing a portion of the torn disc that is impacting the nerve. This procedure does not disrupt the stability of the spine and avoids the tearing of local muscles — a technique not employed during traditional open back surgery. More severely torn discs may require a stabilization procedure, which simply replaces the torn disc with an artificial disc (and sometimes bone grafts) to support the spine.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. The minimally invasive methods used during our procedures offer our patients a safer and effective treatment alternative to traditional open back surgery. For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan.