What Causes a Disc to Rupture?

What Causes a Disc to Rupture?

Ruptured discs are also called slipped, herniated, or bulging discs. While this common problem may have many names, it always describes an intervertebral disc problem. More specifically, it’s a disc with its center tissue pushing through its tough exterior. 

Dr. Arien Smith at Brain and Spine Institute of New York and New Jersey specializes in diagnosing and treating spinal problems, including ruptured discs. Each year, up to 2% of people develop this common injury, making it a leading cause of back painneck pain, and arm and leg pain.

In this post, Dr. Smith shares some of the leading causes behind ruptured discs.

Getting to the heart of the matter 

Intervertebral discs sit between each vertebra in your spine, acting as a shock absorber and giving your spinal column flexibility. These structures have a soft-jelly like center surrounded by a more sturdy, rubberlike exterior. 

While your discs are strong and flexible, they aren’t indestructible. One of the most common disc issues occurs when part of the tough exterior tears, which allows the soft disk center to bulge out of position.

Ruptured discs don’t always cause symptoms. When they do, it’s often because the bulging disc tissue irritates or presses a nerve in the area, leading to symptoms that radiate along the affected nerve, such as:

In most cases, ruptured discs occur in the lower back, making them a leading cause of sciatica. However, they can also affect the cervical spine, which triggers symptoms in the neck, shoulder, and arm.

Common causes of ruptured discs

It’s easy to assume you need to suffer a significant trauma to rupture a disc. However, they often occur from subtle movement, like bending, twisting, or turning while lifting something. In fact, traumatic events are rarely to blame for these disc injuries.

Most of the time, ruptured discs develop because of normal age-related wear-and-tear on the spine. That’s because your discs lose their flexibility and weaken as you age, leaving them more vulnerable to injury from a seemingly harmless activity, like sneezing.

Other factors that increase your chances of a ruptured disc include:

Ruptured discs are also most common in people 30-50 years of age and occur twice as frequently in men.

Finding relief for ruptured discs

Ruptured discs may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer with them. After diagnosing your condition and the affected disc, Dr. Smith can outline a treatment strategy to relieve your symptoms.

Common treatments for ruptured discs include:

If your symptoms don’t respond to conservative therapies, Dr. Smith could recommend minimally invasive surgery to remove some or all of your damaged disc. If you need the entire disc removed, your treatment could also include spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement to restore strength and stability to your spine.

Do you have a ruptured disc? Contact Brain and Spine Institute of New York and New Jersey to schedule a consultation at our location nearest you by calling or booking a visit online today.

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