One of the most common collapsed disc causes is age. The aging process affects every part of our bodies including the spine. The spinal discs, which cushion the vertebrae and allow for basic movement, are especially vulnerable due to the amount of pressure they are subjected to every day.
A collapsed disc occurs when a degenerated disc loses height, causing the surrounding vertebrae to move closer together. This is not necessarily painful, but if symptoms do develop they can seriously interfere with normal activity, from working in the yard to relaxing and watching TV. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, learning more about its connection to the aging process can be beneficial for your treatment. This information can help you make a more informed treatment decision with the best chance of returning you to the quality of life you deserve.
How does aging contribute to a collapsed disc?
Aging, along with other causes like poor posture or weight, can lead to a collapsed disc through the gradual wearing down of the parts of the disc. Each spinal disc is made of two main parts — a soft inner-layer and a tough fibrous outer layer. As we age, both layers lose water content, making the core less able to absorb shock and the outer shell more vulnerable to tears and bulging. Years of wear from everyday movements can eventually cause a disc to lose enough height to be diagnosed as a collapsed disc.
Symptoms of a collapsed disc are usually related to nerve compression, as decreased space between the vertebrae can lead to narrowing of the nerve pathways. This can result in the following symptoms:
- Local pain
- Shooting pains along the affected nerve
- Tingling and numbness in the extremities
- Muscle weakness
Preventing and treating a collapsed disc
Even if you’re currently dealing with a collapsed disc, there are several ways you can help prevent more from occurring in the future. One way is through exercise to strengthen the muscles that support the spine — however, your physician’s consent should always be obtained before starting a new exercise routine. It is also important to practice good posture, healthy eating and weight management.
Many patients experiencing symptoms related to a collapsed disc are able to find relief through conservative treatments like over-the-counter medication, massage, physical therapy and periods of rest. Surgery is usually considered if these methods don’t provide a return to comfortable activity within weeks or months. If you are recommended for a surgical procedure, it is important to be aware of the full range of options.
At USA Spine Care, our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients a shorter recovery time comparatively.^
For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, reach out to our team today.