Disc Problems and Treatments

Treatment for ruptured discs and degenerative disc disease.

Your spine includes small rubbery pads called intervertebral discs. These discs are located between the spine bones, or vertebrae, and act as cushioning for the bones.

Conditions that affect the discs can be very painful and limit mobility. If you have a disc problem, our spine specialists have the treatments to solve it. Two of the main disc problems our doctors treat are ruptured discs and degenerative disc disease.

Ruptured discs

Ruptured discs also are known as slipped discs -- though this name isn’t accurate -- or herniated discs. When a disc ruptures, the gel-like center bulges outward.

If the bulged area presses on the root of a nerve, it can cause pain in the area of that nerve. For example, a herniated disc in the lower back may press on the sciatic nerve and cause sciatica.

Treatment for ruptured discs

Ruptured discs often respond to bed rest. Your doctor also may recommend physical therapy.

Most people with ruptured discs won’t need spine surgery. But if your symptoms don’t improve after rest and physical therapy, you may need surgery to remove some of the ruptured disc.

Degenerative disc disease

Also known as spondylosis, degenerative disc disease refers to the deterioration of the intervertebral discs. This deterioration can happen because of:

  • Aging
  • Infections
  • Traumatic injuries (either repetitive injuries over time or one particular injury)

Degenerative disc disease can cause several problems, including:

  • Back stiffness
  • Lack of motion
  • Pain

Treatment for degenerative disc disease

The first step in treating degenerative disc disease is conservative treatment with medication for pain relief. Exercise programs can help strengthen abdominal muscles and prevent spinal curvature that can result from a degenerating disc.

If these treatments don’t relieve your pain, surgery may be necessary. Spinal fusion surgery can permanently join together two vertebrae and improve the spine’s stability after disc degeneration. After surgery, you’ll probably need to wear a brace or plaster cast until the fusion is secure.

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