A collapsed disc shrinks or deteriorates due to constant compression of the surrounding vertebrae. This is often the result of a degenerative spine, which is the natural deterioration process of the spine over time or due to a massive herniation, protrusion or extrusion. When this happens, the disc can no longer function as the stabilizer for the spine and can create problems.
Discs in the spine are natural shock absorbers that rest between the bony vertebrae. Discs have two main components, a tough outer layer and a soft gel-like center. When pressure occurs along the spinal column and pushes down on the disc, the inner fluid of the disc presses against the tough outer layer. When this happens, the tough outer layer of the disc pushes the inner fluid back into position, re-establishing the height and shape of the disc.
As the spine naturally degenerates with age, daily activities will cause repeated pressure to be placed on the discs. Think of the outer layer of the disc as a rubber band; the first few times the inner disc material pushes on the outer wall, the elasticity in the wall moves the inner fluid back into place. However, just like stretching a rubber band eventually causes it to lose elasticity, the same happens with the outer wall of the disc.
A collapsed disc is actually a common term for spine conditions that affect the discs and cause them to become misshapen and to lose height. When the inner fluid presses against the wall and the wall can no longer push back, the disc will begin to flatten and expand, thus causing the shape and height to be lost. To learn about risks and treatments for a collapsed disc, read the following article.
Risk factors for collapsed discs
Though no one can prevent the aging process, there are certain things that can be done to slow the speed of spinal degeneration. Spine health preservation measures are essentially the same as those for preserving general body health, such as:
- Not smoking or drinking
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Participating in low-impact exercise
- Taking care when lifting heavy objects
- Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet
Following these recommendations can help reduce the wear placed on the spine, delaying or preventing the degenerative changes that may cause herniated discs, bulging discs, disc thinning and degenerative disc disease.
Treatment for a collapsed disc
Prevention may not be possible for some patients, especially those who are already experiencing the effects of spinal degeneration. The symptoms caused by disc collapse are present only if a spinal nerve becomes compressed. Symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness, muscle spasms and tingling. Many patients gain relief from these symptoms with conservative treatments like pain medications (over-the-counter or prescription), anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, heat massage and chiropractic care.
However, some patients require more advanced treatment for spine pain. For these patients, treatment options like minimally invasive surgery at USA Spine Care may be the best course of action to find pain relief. If this is the case for you, contact USA Spine Care to learn about the outpatient treatments we offer to relieve collapsed disc symptoms. Our minimally invasive surgeries offer safer and effective methods of treatment compared to traditional open back surgery.^
At USA Spine Care, we offer several minimally invasive surgeries to help treat patients with a collapsed or damaged disc. Our most common surgery for this condition is a minimally invasive discectomy, which removes a portion of the damaged disc that is extended into the spinal canal and pinching a nerve root.
However, if the collapsed disc is no longer offering the proper spacing between the surrounding vertebrae, we may recommend a minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization, which includes the replacement of the collapsed disc with an artificial disc to stabilize the spine and decompress the pinched nerve.
Since 2005, our procedures have earned a patient satisfaction score of 98^ and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. To learn more about how our minimally invasive procedures can help treat your collapsed disc, reach out to USA Spine Care today and request a free MRI review* from our spine care experts. We can determine if you are a potential candidate for our procedures.
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