A collapsed disc in the neck can be a potentially painful condition. It can result in localized pain, pain radiating the length of a nerve into the upper extremities, sensations of numbness and/or tingling, and muscle weakness. If your physician has diagnosed this condition as the cause of your symptoms, you should be interested in finding out how to treat it. But, it can also be valuable to educate yourself on the specifics of this degenerative spine condition, as well as its causes.
What is a collapsed disc, and what causes it?
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, bulges, or collapses. A herniated disc is not a collapsed disc. When the fibro-elastic fibers mentioned above tear allowing central gelatinous material to escape into the surrounding tissue, the collapsed disc has progressed to a herniated disc. Collapse of a disc also may allow adjacent vertebra to rub together. Boney contact stimulates bone spur formation. Bulging discs, herniated discs, bone spurs, and the vertebra themselves all may result in nerve compression, also known as a “pinched” nerve. This pressure on a neural tissue is the true cause of the symptoms generated by any of these conditions.
If a collapsed disc is causing pain and other symptoms in the neck, shoulders, and arms, physicians usually prescribe a treatment program consisting of various conservative, nonsurgical modalities. These can include pain medications, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, chiropractics, and others. These treatments are often very effective in managing symptoms.
However, some conservative treatments fail, and surgery is necessary. If this is your situation, you should determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our advanced endoscopic outpatient procedures. They are a safe and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.