A collapsed disc of the spine can be quite painful and restrictive of your daily activities, and in many cases can become a chronic problem. If you have recurring back or neck pain, it is helpful to understand the clear causes and symptoms of a collapsed disc so you can seek early treatment from Spine & Scoliosis Specialists.
Spinal Discs and Their Purpose
Our spinal discs, or intervertebral discs, are only about one quarter of an inch thick and measure one inch in diameter. These small connecting pillows between the vertebrae consist of a tough outer layer and a gel-like center that facilitate each person’s range of motion in the upper body and flexibility.
The spinal discs are sometimes thought of as a “shock absorber” for the spine. They prevent our vertebrae from rubbing together and causing severe pain.
3 Common Causes of a Collapsed Disc
When a disc loses its height, individuals can suffer from a collapsed disc. The pain can range from mild to severe depending on the severity of the damage. There are three main causes of a collapsed disc:
The natural aging process causes the discs to lose their elasticity as the gel content becomes harder over time. They become less flexible and are not able to serve as shock absorbers as they have in the past. If this continues, the discs will eventually begin to lose their height and become more prone to injury.
Excess body weight can make it much more difficult for the spine to offer continued support to the body, and can lead to significant damage if this pressure is not reduced. Instead of being able to cushion the stress on our spine, discs can lose their shape, bulge out of place, or collapse. When there is less padding between the vertebrae, the spine is less stable and more susceptible to injury.
Any sport, but especially high impact sports, can inflict a heavy workload on the spine. This is especially true of activities that involve repetitive motions such as swinging and twisting.
Symptoms of a Collapsed Disc
When a collapsed disc is narrowed, it is likely to compresses nearby nerves, which may result in various symptoms like muscle weakness, pain, numbness and tingling, limited range of motion, or a burning sensation. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact Spine & Scoliosis Specialists for an evaluation right away.
Treatments for a Collapsed Disc
If symptoms are mild, more conservative treatments will often be recommended. These include taking anti-inflammatory medications, and regularly attending physical therapy sessions. If over-the-counter medications are not successful, prescription narcotics may be prescribed to help patients manage their high levels of pain.
In more severe cases, surgical options may be the only solution to treating a collapsed disc.
Contact Spine & Scoliosis Specialists if you are noticing any symptoms of a collapsed disc so that you can receive proper care as soon as possible.