Collapsed discs symptoms can vary widely in their location and character, depending mainly on which part of the spine is being affected. This article will go into more detail about the inner anatomy of a collapsed disc in order to help the reader to better understand this condition’s symptoms and treatment.
Inside of a collapsed disc
As the name implies, intervertebral discs are disc-like objects that lie between the vertebrae. As joints, the discs’ role is to provide supportive cushioning and shock-absorbance qualities to the spine. Two primary components of an intervertebral disc are recognized by medical experts: the inner nucleus pulposus, which is made of a gel-like material consisting of water and loose connective fibers, and the outer annulus fibrosus, which is a ring of tough fibrocartilage that surrounds and contains the contents of the nucleus.
How a collapsed disc causes symptoms, and how they are treated
As an intervertebral disc loses height due to age or other factors, there is a subsequent loss of a buffer space between those two vertebrae the disc lies between. As a consequence, nerve roots that are located in between the vertebrae can become trapped, and the delicate spinal cord itself may even be damaged. When nerve roots are impinged, the parts of the body they supply innervation to may become symptomatic. Common symptoms reported for a pinched nerve root include pain, numbness, “pins-and-needles” tingling and muscle weakness.
A collapsed disc can also cause symptoms by invoking an inflammatory effect in the disc wall. This most often causes local pain, but it can usually be relieved by the administration of anti-inflammatory agents. Your physician may suggest either prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, depending on your situation. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Other conservative treatments for a collapsed disc include physical therapy, hot and cold compresses and epidural steroid injections.
For more information about collapsed discs and the minimally invasive treatment options offered at USA Spine Care, contact us today.