What is a Collapsed Spinal Disc?

Category: Back Pain, Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 1, 2014

collapsed discAs we have discussed at length on this blog, the spine is made up of two primary parts: the vertebral bones, and the discs that cushion those bones. Many problems that arise in the spine are the result of these discs popping out of place or protruding into other areas of the back. When a disc collapses it loses height and causes the vertebrae to move closer together.

Causes & Symptoms

Collapsed discs are similar (but not identical) to herniated and bulging discs. A collapsed disc occurs when a spinal disc loses some of its water content over time. This, in turn, can cause the disc to lose height, bringing the vertebral bones closer together.

Collapsed discs are most common in elderly patients, especially those who have degenerative disc disease. Here are a few common symptoms of a collapsed disc:

  • Pain throughout your neck and back that may radiate into other areas
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Loss of muscle control

When discs shrink and vertebrae come closer together, the body often produces bone spurs. These spurs can negatively interact with the muscles and nerves surrounding the spinal cord, leading to nerve issues.

How to Treat a Collapsed Disc?

Spinal discs deteriorate as we age – there is no way to stop it. There are ways to combat the symptoms of a collapsed disc though. Treatment usually begins with non-surgical techniques such as:

  • Pain medication (over the counter or prescription)
  • Steroid Injections
  • Physical therapy

Sometimes these conservative options fail to relieve pain from a collapsed disc. When pain persists, it is a good time to investigate minimally invasive spine surgery as a treatment option. Consult with your physician today to see if minimally invasive surgery is a good fit for you.

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