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Know the Difference: Torn Disc vs. Herniated Disc

Last updated 6 years ago

The intervertebral discs are the soft structures that separate the bones of the spine in order to absorb shock and help you move comfortably. As the body ages, the discs become dehydrated, so they are brittle and prone to damage. Pressure from the spinal vertebrae triggered by injury or repetitive motions may cause the inner liquid contents of the disc to push outward on the disc wall. This condition is often referred to as a herniated or bulging disc.

Understanding how disc problems affect the spine
When the contents of a disc are forced outward, the spongy structure might press against one of the many nerve roots contained in the spine. This not only leads to back pain, but it can cause numbness and loss of sensation in the extremities, depending on the location of the damage. If left untreated long enough, the wall of the disc may rupture leading to a torn disc. At this point, the contents of the disc can leak out and further irritate the nerves.

Properly diagnosing your condition
Whether you are suffering from a herniated disc or a torn disc, an accurate diagnosis is important to determining proper treatment. Your doctor may ask you a series of questions to get an accurate picture of your symptoms. Then, diagnostic tests, such as x-ray or MRI, may be taken to pinpoint the location of the problematic disc and determine if it has ruptured. Your treatment might typically include minimally invasive surgery to eliminate the damaged tissue followed by physical therapy and massage to prevent further injury.

If you think you may have a herniated or torn disc, schedule a consultation at SpineOne. Our multi-disciplinary practice offers a wide spectrum of treatments to help you heal quickly. Learn more about us on our website or call (303) 367-2225.



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