Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 21, 2019
Ruptured spinal discs are more common than you may imagine. They’ve felled professional athletes like Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning, and famous personas like Harrison Ford and John Kennedy. They occur when a spinal disc becomes overloaded due to stress, and the disc’s inner nucleus breaks through the harder outer layer. When this happens, numerous symptoms can develop. Below, we take a closer look at these injuries and how they are best treated.
Causes and Symptoms of Ruptured Spinal Discs
As we discussed in the intro, ruptured discs occur when a spinal disc becomes overloaded with stress. This can occur during the forceful impact of a fall, or a much more innocuous action like bending over to pick up your grandchild. See, while stress is the ultimate cause of a ruptured disc, a number of other factors can contribute to the degeneration or weakening of these discs. Certain controllable and uncontrollable factors that can weaken your spinal discs and increase your risk of rupture include:
- Poor posture
- Working physical labor
- Repeated lifting or bending of the spine
- Excess weight
If a disc does reach the point of rupture, you’ll likely notice some or all of the following symptoms. Localized pain at the spot of the rupture, pain that radiates to your arms or legs, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, muscle weakness, inhibited range of motion and difficulty walking. If you’re dealing with any of these symptoms, seek out a spine specialist.
Diagnosing and Treating Ruptured Spinal Discs
Like many spinal conditions, a ruptured spinal disc is diagnosed through our comprehensive evaluation process. We’ll begin by reviewing your medical history and talking to you about your symptoms. From there, we’ll move onto a physical exam where we take a look at your back and may ask you to perform some simple movement exercises to check your motion capabilities. Finally, we’ll confirm our suspicions with one of a number of different imaging options available at our clinic, including X-ray, MRI, CT scan, ultrasound or more.
Once a diagnosis has been uncovered, we’ll walk your through your treatment options. Despite the fact that the disc has ruptured, the body is a magnificent vessel that can actually repair itself depending on the location and size of the rupture. For some patients, treatment involves rest, a healthy diet, controlled exercise and targeted physical therapy routines to help give the disc time to heal and then to strengthen the area. In fact, most herniated discs resolve on their own with conservative care methods without the need for surgery.
However, if the rupture is unlikely to heal on its own or it is threatening vital structures like your spinal cord, surgery may be your best bet. There are a number of different minimally invasive surgeries that can either address the ruptured disc or replace it with an artificial option. Should these become options, your surgeon can walk you through the specifics, but they are non-invasive operations with high success rates.
So if you’ve suffered a ruptured disc while working or lifting a heavy box, do yourself a favor and connect with Dr. Sinicropi to see how you should best manage the pain. The sooner the issue is treated, the sooner you can get back to a pain free way of living. For more information, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.