Collapsed discs may occur when intervertebral discs of the spine suffer a loss of overall disc height from degeneration through aging or injury. Weakened or torn annulus fibrosus can cause discs to bulge or become herniated. Both of these conditions may cause pressure upon adjacent nerve roots which can cause symptoms including numbness, tingling, weakness or pain.
Collapsed Disc Diagnosis
Identifying a collapsed disc is relatively easy with the use of an MRI, in which collapsed discs appear to have been crushed or broken. Many times, a collapsed disc is fairly synonymous with degenerative disc disease and shows similar characteristics, such as a darkening of the disc interior and shrinking of the overall disc space.
Because degenerative disc disease is a naturally occurring part of aging, it may not cause symptoms in some patients. To see if a collapsed disc is the cause of pain, a physical exam will need to be performed along with a possible discogram to determine the disc’s integrity.
Treatment for a collapsed disc depends on the duration and severity of discogenic pain; less than two months duration may respond well to pain medication, therapy and injections. Discogenic pain lasting longer than two months usually requires surgery to effectively relieve painful symptoms.