Ruptured Discs

Written by Greg on October 22, 2014

Herniated Discs

A herniated disc or a ruptured disc is talking about an issue with the cushions between individual bones or vertebrae that make up your spinal cord.  The Mayo Clinic has an excellent article on herniated discs.


A disc in your spine is a jellylike substance that has a soft core that is surrounded by a harder exterior. When you hear someone talk about a slipped disc or a ruptured disc they are really talking about some of the softer jellylike substance pushing out through the exterior of the disc.


Here is an excellent Video: Herniated Disc Video


A herniated disc can cause nerve problems and also can have symptoms such as pain or numbness in an arm or leg. The majority of people who suffer from a herniated disc probably will not need surgery to fix the problem.


Causes of Herniated Discs

A ruptured disc can be the result of an accident or can be a part of the aging process and normal wear and tear called degenerative disc disease.


As someone ages, the discs lose hydration which makes the discs much more prone to rupturing.



Herniated or ruptured discs can be diagnosed through a physical exam that correlates with the medical history to make a diagnosis. However, a CT scan or MRI is generally used to document a physicians suspicion regarding a ruptured disc.


It is important to note that x-rays taken in an emergency room will not detect a herniated disc. Many people who are involved in an accident only get an x-ray at the hospital and mistakenly assume that a Kleenex rate means that they were okay.


It is also helpful to know that given the constraints of insurance companies and the pressure put upon HMOs and other insurance plans, a patient may need to be assertive in order to obtain a MRI early on when the symptoms do not improve with conservative treatment.

Symptoms of Disc Problems

Symptoms of a bulging disk or a herniated disc can be on or leg pain, numbness or tingling and weakness of the nerves. If your neck or back pain makes it into your arms or legs and or if it’s accompanied by numberless tingling or weakness you should see an orthopedic surgeon regarding a potential herniated or ruptured disc.


Sometimes disk problems can be exacerbated by a lifestyle. Physical therapist can educate people about lifestyle changes and also treatment options to minimize the symptoms of a ruptured disc.


Surgical Options


Some people may opt for surgery as a solution to the problems they are facing with a herniated disc. There are many new procedures that are much less invasive than even 10 or 15 years ago and surgery is more likely an option today than it was two decades ago for that reason.

If you have questions, regarding a potential ruptured disc see  an orthopedic doctor and also consider obtaining an MRI.





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