A collapsed disc may occur when intervertebral discs of the spine suffer a loss of overall disc height from degeneration through aging or injury. Discs act as natural shock absorbers in the spine, so when they are damaged, it can cause pain. Weakened or torn annulus fibrosus can cause discs to bulge or become herniated. This causes the disc to lose its normal height and "collapse." Both of these conditions may cause pressure upon adjacent nerve roots. This can cause symptoms including numbness, tingling, weakness or pain.
Identifying a collapsed disc is relatively easy with the use of an MRI. On an MRI, 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. In less common cases, it can be caused by injury.
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. If the pain's duration is less than two months, it may respond well to pain medication, physical therapy and injections. Discogenic pain lasting longer than two months usually requires a safe, outpatient surgery to effectively relieve painful symptoms.
Watch the video below to learn more about collapsed discs and how to treat them:
Are you or a loved one experiencing pain from a collapsed disc? Deuk Spine Institute is always accepting new patient inquiries. To learn more, contact us or give us a call at 1-800-FIX-MY-BACK.