Ruptured discs are simply the presence of an Annular Tear in the outer wall of the intervertebral disc. Often caused by normal disc degeneration, ruptured discs can also be the result of injuries playing sports or getting in an accident. Should a disc rupture, the Nucleus Pulposus, or shock absorbing jelly filling the center of the disc, is allowed to expand outside of its normal bounds, decreasing the overall effectiveness of the disc’s ability to absorb the load of the spine.
Types of Ruptured Disc
Once a disc has ruptured, the subsequent treatment is straight forward in relation to removing herniated material and allowing proper healing. The reason or reasons for the tear, however, are much less clear. Often a product of multiple tears, ruptured discs can occur from a number of different kinds of Annular tears.
- Typically caused due to injury, Concentric Tears affect the disc by creating separation in the lamellae or membrane layers protecting the disc.
- Peripheral Tears, while similar in orientation to concentric tears, occur on the outside of the disc and are not limited to separation of membrane layers. Frequently known to cause disc degeneration.
- Spanning the height of the disc and extending from the center outward, Radial Tears occur naturally with aging and are the most common cause of disc herniation in patients.
Ruptured Disc Diagnosis
Patients suffering from ruptured discs most commonly find their condition identified via the use of MRI. When looking at a MRI, ruptured discs often exhibit signs of degeneration which may include deformed centers, dehydration and/or actual nucleic spillage into the spinal cavities surrounding the disc. Carefully coupled with a physical exam, our doctors are able to determine the severity of discomfort and pain in relation to the suspected disc as well as an appropriate course of action in relieving discogenic pain.
Ruptured Disc Treatment
Once a disc is suspected for causing pain or discomfort, treatment is fairly straight forward. Often beginning with a series of conservative management techniques, we will attempt to aid the disc in self repair through non-surgical means. Should conservative management prove ineffective or the disc pain becomes overwhelming, our team of doctors will proceed with interventional pain management and/or surgery.