Correlation between aging and a herniated disc

Many factors contribute to the development of a herniated disc, but age may be the most common. By the time most people reach middle age, the components of the spine have endured decades of wear related to bending, twisting and turning. This deterioration is particularly pronounced within the lower back (lumbar spine) and the neck (cervical spine), where the spine is very flexible and must bear the weight of the upper body and the head, respectively. The spinal discs, which cushion and separate the stacked vertebrae, are especially vulnerable to age-related deterioration. To learn more about the impact that aging has on the spine and methods to treat a ruptured disc, read the following article.

A deteriorating disc can rupture

Just because a disc has begun to weaken, it does not necessarily mean that it will develop into a herniated disc. In order for that to be the case, a rupture or tear must be present somewhere within the outer wall of a disc. The tough outer layer of a disc is always under a lot of strain, but that stress is compounded when the gel-like center of a disc begins to dehydrate with age. Reduced water content within the nucleus causes a disc to lose its ability to withstand the pressure from the adjacent vertebrae, and the disc may experience a loss in height.

That reduction in height places a greater burden on the disc’s wall, which can begin to wear over time. Eventually, a portion of the outer wall may begin to tear, which allows the nucleus material to seep into the spinal canal. While a herniated disc is not necessarily symptomatic, the tear in the outer wall may cause localized pain and inflammation. If the extruded nucleus material makes contact with a nearby nerve root, it can give rise to the following symptoms:

  • Shooting pain
  • Tingling
  • Diminished sensation or numbness
  • Muscle weakness in the areas associated with the affected nerve

Surgery for a herniated disc

In many cases, symptoms associated with a herniated disc can be managed without surgery through conservative means such as pain medication, chiropractic care and physical therapy. However, if your chronic pain and discomfort remain debilitating after several weeks or months, your doctor may recommend for you to get surgery.

Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery and our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are often clinically appropriate compared to open neck or back surgery.^ Contact our team today to learn more about how our herniated disc procedures can help you find lasting relief.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Our highly skilled surgeons are able to use a small incision that is muscle sparing to remove the herniated portion of the disc and insert an implant into the empty disc space to stabilize the spine. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a free MRI review.*

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