Understanding a Collapsed Disc

Collapsed Disc Overview

Collapsed disc treatment generally involves a treatment plan consisting of conservative, nonsurgical treatments. Physical therapy, pain medications, hot/cold therapy, massage, chiropractics, exercise, and stretching are usually very effective in managing the symptoms created by a collapsed disc. Being familiar with the causes of this condition often helps patients stay motivated through prescribed treatment plans.

What Causes a Collapsed Disc?

Intervertebral discs act as natural shock absorbers between the bony vertebrae and also help to facilitate movement. Discs have two main components, the annulus fibrosus (an outer fibro-elastic containment rim) and the nucleus pulposus (the inner soft gelatinous core). When axial loading pressure occurs along the spinal column, the inner gelatinous core of the disc squeezes outward against the fibro-elastic containment wall of the disc. The elastic recoil of the outer wall pushes the gelatinous core back into position, re-establishing the shape and height of the disc.

As a person gets older, routine daily activities cause repeated loading of the disc. Minuscule tears may develop in the fibers of the fibro-elastic outer containment wall. The disc’s outer containment wall slowly loses elasticity or recoils. Ultimately, the outer disc containment wall can no longer push the central core material back into shape as effectively. The outer containment wall sags, causing the disc to bulge or collapse.

Common Symptoms

Collapsed discs show no symptoms unless neural tissue is entrapped. Only when nerve entrapment occurs do symptoms develop. Common symptoms include localized or radiating pain, numbness, muscular weakness, and tingling. Where these symptoms are felt can vary, depending on the position of the damaged intervertebral disc and pinched spinal nerve. It is nerve compression that causes the symptoms of a collapsed disc, not the disc itself. When a collapsed disc pinches a nerve, the symptoms that can result include:

  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Localized pain
  • Pain radiating along the length of the nerve
  • Tingling

Collapsed Disc Surgery with BEST Health System

BEST Health System is a modern ambulatory center with locations throughout Ohio. Our dedicated surgeons specialize in advanced surgical techniques and procedures, allowing patients to enjoy a quicker recovery and less scarring, all on an outpatient basis. 
Our minimally invasive procedures offer an excellent alternative to traditional spine surgery. If you are considering spine surgery, consider minimally invasive. Contact BEST to learn more.