What are torn discs?

A torn disc is when a rip or tear develops on the tough outer layer of a spinal disc. To better understand what this spinal condition is, it helps to have an understanding of the anatomy of a disc. A spinal disc is composed of two parts: a tough fibrous exterior and a softer, jellylike center. The outer layer can lose elasticity over time, making it more prone to tearing and other degenerative conditions.

What causes a torn disc?

Torn discs are very often the result of the natural aging process. Years of wear and tear can make a disc susceptible to degenerative changes. As we age, discs can lose water and protein content, making them less flexible. Traumatic injury from a car accident or high-impact sports, for instance, can also contribute to a disc tear.

How are torn discs treated?

This spinal condition typically only causes pain and discomfort when the inner layer extrudes through the crack in the exterior of the disc and enters into the spinal canal or a nerve root exit, pressing on a nerve. The good news is that many patients find relief from their pain with the following conservative treatments:

  • Physical therapy
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Intermittent rest
  • Lifestyle changes like losing weight, improving posture and quitting smoking

Before starting any form of treatment, it’s important to first consult with your doctor, who can properly provide you with a personalized treatment plan.

If conservative treatment has been exhausted and your pain has persisted for weeks and months, you may want to consider the minimally invasive outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. We perform minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery, offering our patients less risk of complication.^ Contact us to learn more about our state-of-the-art procedures and how they can help you help you find relief from neck or back pain.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, ask for your free MRI or CT scan review* when you reach out to us.