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When a ruptured disc results in chronic back pain, Laser Spine Institute in Tampa offers treatments for relief

A ruptured disc occurs when a disc in the spine breaks open and leaks inner disc fluid into the spinal canal. While this may seem like an exaggerated or severe spinal condition, a ruptured disc may occur as part of the natural aging or degeneration process of the spine.

As we age, the discs in the spine begin to deteriorate and the inner disc fluid that keeps the disc strong begins to dissolve and dry up. As the inner fluid decreases, the outer layer of the disc is no longer supported and may begin to compress under the pressure of the surrounding vertebrae. Over time, the compression of the disc can cause the outer layer of the disc to break open, leaking what is left of the inner disc fluid into the spinal canal. When this happens, the inner fluid can irritate or compress the spinal cord or surrounding nerve roots, causing pain and other symptoms of discomfort.

Ruptured disc diagnosis

Because the symptoms of a ruptured disc are very similar to those caused by other spine conditions, only a physician can definitively diagnose whether or not a ruptured disc is the cause of your pain. Usually, the diagnostic process consists of a combination of the following:

  • An open discussion about your symptoms and medical history
  • A physical exam
  • Tests to rule out other conditions, such as blood tests
  • Tests to confirm the presence of a ruptured disc, such as an MRI or CT scan

Ruptured disc causes

As with many other spine conditions, the most common cause of a ruptured disc is aging. The spine naturally weakens and may become damaged over time, as years of activity wear down different elements of the spinal anatomy. Additionally, there are a number of factors that can cause an individual’s spine to degenerate faster, thereby increasing their risk of developing a ruptured disc. These factors include genetics, traumatic injury, playing high-impact sports, obesity and tobacco use.
Ruptured disc symptoms

Symptoms associated with ruptured discs can vary depending on the severity of the compression or irritation and the location of the damaged disc. The most common symptoms include:

  • Trouble sitting or sleeping
  • Radiating pain into arms or legs
  • Shooting pain
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Pain in a specific area of the neck or back
  • Inability to turn or move comfortably
  • Burning
  • Inability to stand or walk

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you understand the importance of finding a treatment option that will help reduce your pain so you can get back to your normal activities in life. We recommend that you contact your physician or our Care Team to discuss your spine condition and the treatment options available to you.

Conservative and alternative ruptured disc treatments

For a large number of patients with a ruptured disc, nonsurgical treatment is sufficient in relieving their pain and improving their quality of life. Your conservative treatment regimen will depend on several factors, including the location of the ruptured disc and your overall health. That said, some commonly used methods of conservative treatment for a ruptured disc are pain medication, corticosteroid injections, hot/cold therapy and physical therapy.

Additionally, many patients have found alternative methods of treatment successful in relieving their ruptured disc symptoms. Alternative treatment helps to promote the body’s natural healing process and may include acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, herbal supplements, yoga or Pilates. Your doctor can determine if these treatments are safe for your condition and medical history.

Ruptured disc surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute

If you have undergone conservative treatment for several months and all attempted options have failed to bring you relief, surgery may become the best viable solution for you to treat your ruptured disc.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional ruptured disc surgery.^ These include procedures such as:

  • Foraminotomy — the surgeon will remove the portion of the ruptured disc that is causing the exit of the foramen to become restricted
  • Laminotomy — the surgeon will remove the portion of the disc that is compressing the spinal cord
  • Discectomy — the surgeon will remove the section of the disc that is causing the irritation or compression
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF) — the surgeon will remove the damaged disc, fusing the area to prevent future instability
  • Cervical disc replacement — the surgeon will remove the ruptured disc, replacing it with an artificial disc
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) — the surgeon will insert a bone graft and spacer in order to heighten the disc space, adding stability
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion — the surgeon will fuse the adjacent vertebrae while removing the damaged disc and heightening the disc space

For information regarding these and other procedures used to treat ruptured discs at Laser Spine Institute’s Tampa facility, contact us today. We offer a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.