Many conditions affecting the neck and back are preventable to some extent, including the development of a torn disc. Risk factors are not always avoidable, but steering clear of those that are can significantly reduce one’s chance for developing a torn disc.
The natural aging process is one of the most common causes of a torn disc and is, obviously, one of the risk factors that is unavoidable. Between the ages of 30 and 50, intervertebral discs begin to deteriorate from the continued stress and pressure that is placed on them. These changes can make a disc more susceptible to developing a tear. Though aging is inevitable, the following torn disc risk factors can be avoided:
- Smoking – Smoking reduces oxygen levels in the blood and deprives intervertebral discs of essential nutrients.
- Obesity – Carrying extra weight places undue pressure on the spine and can promote degeneration.
- Overexertion – Participating in high-impact sports such as hockey, football, and gymnastics can lead to premature degeneration of the intervertebral discs.
Those who develop a torn disc despite their best efforts to avoid smoking, obesity, over-exertion and other risk factors can experience a great deal of pain. Muscle weakness, numbness, spasms, and tingling may also occur and can be felt in the neck, back, and/or extremities. A torn disc is typically only symptomatic when the interior of a disc seeps through the tear and enters into the spinal canal.
Many of the symptoms of a torn disc can be alleviated with physical therapy, pain medications, and hot and/or cold compresses. If these conservative treatments fail to provide relief, a doctor may recommend surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our endoscopic, outpatient procedures that can help you find relief from back and neck pain.