Living with a Torn Disc

Living with a Torn Disc

If you or a loved one is experiencing torn disc symptoms, you are aware of how painful they can be. A torn disc is also referred to as a ruptured or herniated disc. The condition occurs when the inner material of a spinal disc leaks out of a torn or cracked section of the outer wall. The condition may cause pain if the disc material compresses the spinal cord or nerve roots. 

A cervical torn disc may manifest the following symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands, while an occurrence in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine may cause these symptoms in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet: 

  • Radiating pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramping
  • Weakness
  • Numbness and tingling 

What Causes a Torn Disc?

Although a torn disc may develop for a number of reasons, the primary cause is age, which of course cannot be prevented. Spinal discs undergo progressive degeneration over time, known as degenerative disc disease. As we age, the discs of cartilage between our vertebrae that are normally spongy and flexible begin to dehydrate and become weaker. The tough outer wall of the disc, called the annulus fibrosus, breaks down. The pressure exerted from the vertebrae above and below may cause the inner gel-like substance, called the nucleus pulposus, to expand outward. A bulging disc occurs when this inner material pushes against the outer wall, creating a bulge in the spinal canal. If the annulus fibrosus is weak enough to crack or tear and the nucleus pulposus leaks out into the spinal cavity, the resulting condition is known as a torn disc.

Easing Your Pain

Oftentimes, patients with back pain are able to find relief through a range of conservative therapies. This includes physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, and pain medications. However, if these treatments are ineffective, patients may consider surgical intervention. At BEST Health System, we offer a variety of conservative therapies and surgical options. Our board-certified surgeons and specialists are dedicated to helping patients find the solution with the lowest risk. Contact BEST to learn more about our services.