Herniated disc causes — physical trauma to the spine

A herniated disc develops when pressure on the spine causes a supporting disc to expand and tear, sometimes releasing the disc’s nucleus into the spinal canal and causing nerve compression.

One of the causes of a herniated disc in the neck or back is physical trauma to the spine. In fact, sports-related accidents, auto accidents and other types of sudden trauma are among the leading causes of disc damage in youth and young adults.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a herniated disc, such as pain, numbness or muscle weakness in the spine or extremities, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the exact cause of your pain. Once a herniated disc diagnosis is made, you can take the next step toward finding an effective treatment.

What is a herniated disc, exactly?

The discs in the spine rest between the vertebrae and are responsible for protecting and cushioning the bones and other components of the spine. The discs allow the vertebrae to hinge and pivot without impacting one another, and they absorb the shock of a collision or repetitive motion that would otherwise jar the spine.

In order to maintain their strength and flexibility, the discs are made of a tough outer disc wall (annulus fibrosus) and a gel-like inner disc material (nucleus pulposus). When the vertebrae of the spine are suddenly compressed due to trauma or injury, the pressure on the disc between those vertebrae can cause the outer wall of the disc to tear open, creating a herniated disc.

How trauma causes problems

Trauma to the spine is unexpected and sometimes unavoidable. However, understanding some of the risk factors for a trauma-related spine injury may help protect your overall spine health. Certain activities can increase your risk of a trauma-caused herniated disc, including:

  • Participation in high-impact sports like football
  • Golfing
  • Having a line of work that requires bending, lifting or twisting
  • Car accidents
  • A sudden fall
  • Other activities that can damage the spine


If you’ve experienced physical trauma to the spine, it is extremely important that you rely on a physician to treat your condition. While conservative treatment may be effective for some injuries, more serious injuries may require spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat herniated discs and other degenerative disc diseases. Though many of our patients with a herniated disc are recommended for a decompression surgery, some patients may be recommended to undergo a stabilization procedure. A minimally invasive decompression surgery removes a small piece of the herniated disc in order to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve in the spine, while a stabilization surgery replaces the damaged disc with an artificial one to stabilize the spine. Both procedures are performed through a small incision and offer a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication than traditional open neck or back surgery.

To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our team can review your MRI report or CT scan to help you take the next step toward pain relief.

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