Torn spinal discs (also known as annular tears or herniated, bulging, ruptured, and slipped discs) affect millions of people worldwide. Your spinal discs can become torn due to an injury you sustain, but most often, discs are damaged because of degenerative disc disease, a condition associated with aging and normal wear and tear.
Your intervertebral discs give your spine the cushioning support it needs so you can comfortably move and bend. If a disc or discs become damaged, the end result can cause you extremely painful symptoms. Here’s some important information from the Spine Institute Northwest about degenerative disc disease and how the latest forms of treatment provided by Dr. Solomon Kamson, MD, PhD, can help alleviate your pain.
Intervertebral Discs: What Are They?
Spinal discs are situated between each of your vertebrae. They are composed of two layers of soft tissue. The outer layer is called the annulus fibrosus, and the softer, gelatinous inner layer is the nucleus pulposus. Think of those insole support pads for shoes. They contain a gel-like material that helps absorb some of the shock your feet endure as you walk or run. Your spinal discs work in a similar way as they let your spine withstand pressure and bear weight more comfortably.
If you’ve severely and suddenly injured your back or neck, you may need surgery right away to treat the issue and avoid future problems. But more chronic painful symptoms of degenerative disc disease can take years to surface, at which time the soft tissue breakdown can be extensive. At this point, you have a few different options for treatment.
Will Time Alone Heal the Damage?
Actually, an annular tear can sometimes heal on its own, but it’s difficult to know if self-healing will actually occur. The process by which a damaged disc heals over time is called resorption. When the inflammation of a torn disc attracts certain cells known as phagocytes, these new cells absorb into the body, extinguishing the herniated cells. The process occurs naturally for some people, while resorption doesn’t occur for others, unfortunately.
Conservative Treatments for Herniated Discs
You can relieve the pain associated with torn discs, at least for a while, using over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers. Other measures include cortisone injections, rest, physical therapy, low-impact exercises, and massage therapy. If pain persists or worsens, you may need an MRI or another imaging test so Dr. Kamson can evaluate the disc in question and perhaps offer more intensive solutions.
You may have tried all of the above conservative treatments, are still in pain, but want to avoid any type of surgery. If so, you may want to consider regenerative treatments. These therapies often use stem cells from your own body to help heal torn discs using a minimally invasive technique. The cells are injected into the damaged disc. The injected material is sometimes combined with other natural substances to advance healing and create new, healthy cell growth.
If you’re interested in fixing your torn spinal disc issues or having any questions about intervertebral disc treatments, contact Dr. Sol Kamson at the Spine Institute Northwest in Bothell, WA, today to discover more. Call us at (208) 496-0630.