Though it is one of the more common spinal conditions, many individuals have little understanding of torn intervertebral discs. It is usually not until one is diagnosed with this condition that he or she actually asks, “What are torn discs?” In order to understand what this spinal condition is, one should first have an understanding of the anatomy of a disc. A disc is composed of two parts: the annulus fibrosus (the tough exterior) and the nucleus pulposus (the soft, jellylike center). Simply stated, a torn disc occurs when the outer annulus fibrosus develops a crack or a tear.
What Causes a Torn Disc?
Torn discs are a common result of the natural aging process. Years of wear and tear can make a disc susceptible to degenerative changes. When people are between the ages of 30 and 50, discs can lose water content and become less flexible. These factors can contribute toward the development of a torn disc. Traumatic injury from a car accident or high-impact sports, for instance, can also cause a disc tear.
How Are Torn Discs Treated?
This spinal condition typically only causes pain and discomfort when the inner nucleus pulposus seeps through the crack in the exterior of the disc and enters into the spinal canal. The good news is, this condition can heal by itself, given enough time. Furthermore, many patients find relief from their pain when utilizing the following conservative treatments:
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Hot/cold therapy
- Intermittent rest
If these methods prove ineffective and pain continues for months, patients may want to consider the endoscopic procedures performed by the orthopedic specialists at Laser Spine Institute. Contact us to learn about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures and how they can help you find relief from back or neck pain.