What can I do to help a torn disc?

Symptoms of a torn disc in the spine can vary from mild localized discomfort to debilitating pain that makes it difficult to engage in everyday activities such as household chores or sitting at a desk. The most common cause of this condition is the wear and tear that’s part of the normal aging process. The constant stress of supporting the body’s weight, as well as flexing, twisting and bending can cause discs to deteriorate over time. They can also become dehydrated, which reduces their pliability.

A torn disc is one in which the outer wall has ruptured or herniated, allowing material from inside the disc to escape and put pressure on a nearby nerve root. It’s this compression that usually causes symptoms such as pain and tenderness at the injury site as well as numbness, burning sensations and tingling along the length of the affected nerve. While a torn disc can lead to prolonged discomfort, there are a number of conservative treatment options you can do at home that have proven effective in managing pain associated with this condition. Some of the more common include:

  • Mild stretching — several times a day to increase the flexibility of ligaments and tendons around the torn disc
  • Hot and cold compresses — to reduce inflammation, ease pain, relax tense muscles and increase blood flow to the injury site
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs — such as naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen to diminish pain and reduce swelling
  • Exercises — to strengthen the muscles responsible for stabilizing the spine and reduce the possibility of cramping or spasms
  • Yoga — which combines stretching and strength training in a low-impact routine focusing on body postures and breath control

Before starting any treatment, consult your primary care physician first. Many of these strategies will need to be adjusted based on the location of the torn disc. A degenerative cervical disc, for example, will be addressed with different stretches and exercises than those targeting a disc in the lumbar region.

Many people with a torn disc can successfully manage their symptoms using conservative approaches. Others may need to consider surgical alternatives. At Laser Spine Institute, thousands of patients have turned to us for minimally invasive surgeries that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures.^ If you’re suffering from chronic neck or back pain, you may be a candidate for our outpatient surgeries. Contact a member of our team today and ask how you can obtain a free MRI review* to begin the screening process.