Did you know there are 23 discs in your spine? These discs aid in the everyday functioning of your spine. They provide cushion between your vertebrae and give the spine its flexibility. They also help to preserve and protect your vital nerve column.
Each disc is made up of a tough, rubbery exterior called the annulus. Inside, the nucleus consists of a soft, jellylike material composed mainly of water and collagen. When a disc is ruptured, its outer layer has weakened or torn and allowed the inner jelly-like substance to spread into the spinal canal. A ruptured disc is also referred to as a herniated or slipped disc.
Some common causes of a ruptured disc are:
- Accidents/trauma such as a car wreck, fall, or sports injury
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Heavy lifting or over exertion
- Family history
A ruptured disc can occur at any point along the spine but most often occurs in the cervical region (neck area) or lumbar region (lower back). Adults between the ages of 30 to 50 are more likely to experience a ruptured disc with men outnumbering women 2 to 1.
The symptoms of a ruptured disc will vary depending on the location of the injury. Many people may experience no symptoms while others may have back pain, numbness or tingling in the legs or arms.
Solutions for a ruptured disc are almost always non-surgical. These include:
- Rest and reduced activities for several days
- Gentle and intentional exercises and stretches
- Cold and hot therapy
- Medication including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or injections
- Non-surgical spinal decompression
If you are experiencing back pain that isn’t getting better with rest, you need to make an appointment for an evaluation. Left untreated, a ruptured disc that is causing pain may lead to other, more serious issues.
Your spine is the core of your body - the central command center that is so vital to our functions and movements. Those 23 discs in your back are working hard every day giving you the flexibility to move while helping protect your spine and nerve column.
Dr. Brett Braly is a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. Dr. Braly is a leading advocate for minimally invasive techniques in spine surgery. Dr. Braly is named in the top “20 under 40” best spine surgeons by the North American Spine Society.