What are torn discs?

If you find yourself asking, “What are torn discs?”, perhaps because you or someone you know is experiencing neck or back pain, information can be helpful before seeing a physician for diagnosis. In order to understand what this spinal condition is, you should first have an understanding of the anatomy of a disc. A disc is composed of two parts: a tough fibrous exterior and a softer, jellylike center. A torn disc occurs when the outer layer develops a crack or a tear. This is also sometimes referred to as a ruptured or herniated disc, a term you may have heard of more often.

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 content and become less flexible. These factors contribute to the development of a torn disc. Traumatic injury from a car accident or high-impact sports, for instance, can also cause a disc tear.

How are torn discs treated?

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

  • Physical therapy
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Intermittent rest

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

If you attempt these methods but they prove ineffective and your pain continues for weeks and months, you may want to consider the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. We offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that are safe and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery, without the highly invasive nature and lengthy recoveries. 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.