Intervertebral discs are natural shock absorbers between the boney vertebrae. Discs have two main components, an outer fibro-elastic containment rim and an inner soft gelatinous core. When axial loading pressure occurs along the spinal column, the central gelatinous core of the disc squeezes outward against the fibro-elastic containment rim of the disc. The elastic recoil of the containment wall pushes the gelatinous core back into position, reestablishing the height and shape of the disc. As a person ages, natural daily activity causes repeated loading of the disc. Tiny tears may develop in the fibers of the fibro-elastic outer containment wall. This causes some loss of the disc’s outer containment wall elasticity or recoil. The outer disc containment wall can no longer push the central core material back into shape as effectively. The outer containment wall sags, and is said to bulge or collapse.
Collapsed discs remain totally silent unless neural tissue is entrapped. Only when entrapment occurs do symptoms develop. Typical symptoms include localized or radiating pain, numbness, muscular weakness, and tingling. The location of these symptoms can vary, depending on the position of the affected intervertebral disc and impinged spinal nerve. A Discs can lose height to such a degree that the adjacent vertebrae contact one another, leading to the development of bone spurs. Bone spurs can result in the impingement of a nearby spinal nerve, or even the spinal cord itself. Again, neural compression symptoms include localized or radiating pain, numbness, muscular weakness, and/or tingling.
Typically, a doctor recommends an initial treatment program consisting of one or more of the various conservative, nonsurgical treatment modalities. Conservative treatment is often very effective in managing collapsed disc symptoms. Examples of conservative measures include: specific exercises, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, pain medication, massage, and others. However, if conservative treatments fail to control symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our safe, effective endoscopic surgical procedures are minimally invasive alternatives to traditional open back surgery.