What is a Ruptured Disc?
A ruptured disc, also called a herniated disc, occurs when a tear develops in the outer layer of a spinal disc. The pressure from the surrounding vertebrae can then cause the material from the disc’s nucleus to be pushed out. If you have been diagnosed with a ruptured disc, educating yourself on your condition is important. This can allow you to prepare for any symptoms you may experience. This information can help you work with your primary physician to develop a care plan that is best for you.
What Causes a Ruptured Disc?
There are many causes of a ruptured disc, but the most common is the natural aging process. Years of constant use and stress eventually take their toll on the spine. Also, components of the spine tend to become drier with age and when the spinal discs dry out. This causes them to become more brittle and vulnerable to injury.
In addition to the typical aging process, other underlying ruptured disc causes include:
- Genetics. Some people are more genetically predisposed to ruptured discs and other spinal degeneration issues.
- High-impact sports injuries. Sustaining a hard tackle on the football field or slamming into the boards during a hockey game can lead to spinal injury and weakened discs.
- Physically demanding jobs. Repetitive lifting with improper technique, operating heavy machinery, and even sedentary desk jobs can increase the chance of damaging spinal anatomy.
- Unhealthy diet. If you take in too many calories, the resulting excess weight can place increased stress on your spine. Not getting enough water can also cause your discs to not receive the fluid they need to stay flexible and strong.
- Tobacco and alcohol abuse. Both of these habits reduce blood circulation throughout the body and to the spine. This can decrease the nutrients and oxygen supplied for tissue repair and spinal health.
Although these are the most common causes of a ruptured disc, other factors may lead to this condition’s development. If you are experiencing chronic back pain for a prolonged period of time, it is important to consult your doctor. They can help you form a comprehensive treatment plan, often beginning with conservative therapies.
Treatment Options with BEST Health System
Upon diagnosing a ruptured disc, your physician will generally recommend conservative treatments such as rest, physical therapy, light exercise, and pain medication. If these treatments prove unsuccessful after weeks or months, you may consider surgical options. Traditional open-back surgery for a ruptured disc is seen as a last-resort option due to the highly invasive nature of these procedures. Since a surgeon needs to use a large muscle-tearing incision to access the spine, a traditional open spine surgery usually requires an extended hospital stay and a lengthy rehabilitation period.
At BEST Health System, we offer minimally invasive alternatives to open-back surgery. Our board-certified surgeons aim to help patients find the least invasive approach. This allows our patients to experience less pain, smaller incisions, and a faster recovery, all on an outpatient basis. Contact BEST today to learn more about our minimally invasive treatment options.