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Collapsed disc

The spine features cushioning discs that rest between each vertebra. When one of these shock-absorbing discs begins to deteriorate and loses its height, it is said to be “collapsed.” Collapsed discs typically occur in the cervical (upper) spine and lumbar (lower) spine, where vertebrae are frequently subject to a variety of strenuous motions.

Causes of a collapsed disc

Spinal discs are made up of a tough outer shell of cartilage and a gelatinous interior. As we age, discs grow susceptible to losing water content and collapsing. While the body’s natural aging process is most often to blame for this condition, other factors may contribute to the development a collapsed disc, including:

  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • High-impact exercise
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption

Collapsed disc symptoms

The symptoms of a collapsed disc can range from hardly noticeable to disabling depending on what area of the spine is affected and whether or not the thinned disc has led to nerve compression or disc inflammation. Those who experience noticeable collapsed disc symptoms often report muscle weakness, tingling sensations, numbness and localized or radiating pain.

Diagnosing a collapsed disc

The first step to diagnosing a collapsed disc is visiting a primary care physician. Depending on your symptoms, medical history and results of any diagnostic testing, your doctor may prescribe conservative treatments to reduce pain or refer you to a specialist.

Collapsed disc treatment

The majority of people with a collapsed disc can effectively manage their symptoms with a combination of conservative therapies, such as:

  • Physical therapy
  • Gentle exercise and stretching
  • Avoidance of strenuous activities
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Medications to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Alternative treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care and more

Surgical collapsed disc treatment

In the event that conservative treatments repeatedly fail to improve severe collapsed disc symptoms, surgical intervention may be recommended to relieve nerve compression and/or stabilize the spine.

Led by a team of board-certified surgeons+, Laser Spine Institute in Philadelphia offers minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open spine surgeries that require long incisions and considerable downtime. Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and require only a less than 1-inch incision, thereby reducing recovery periods^ and infection risks when compared to traditional surgery.

Finding lasting relief for your collapsed disc symptoms may be easier than you imagined. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to receive a no-cost MRI review* and learn if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive surgery.