What Is a Compressed Disc Exactly?

A compressed disk is a common, painful condition caused by deterioration and abnormalities in the muscles, ligaments and nerves of the spine. This condition can cause severe pain, numbness and weakness, explains HealthGuidance.org.

Cervical disks are gelatin filled pockets between each vertebra along the spine that absorb shock created by movement. As space between each vertebra narrows through degeneration, pressure and stress is applied to the joints of the spine, causing discomfort, pain and stiffness, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Compression of the discs is most often age related and is common among people over 40 years of age. Injury, obesity and poor nutrition habits are also a common cause of compressed disks.

Those who suspect compressed discs should have an examination by a doctor, which will likely include testing for abnormal reflexes, weakness, numbness, and atrophy, which causes muscles deteriorate and shrink, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Other tests may include X-rays, MRI scans, and Myelograms, which is an imaging scan using colored dye injected to better define details of the scan.

There are a number of non invasive treatments for compressed disks including use of anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, stretching, chiropractic care and epidural cortisone injections; in addition to yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture, explains HealthGuidance.org.

In severe cases, Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy or CSM surgery is required. CSM surgery is utilized to open the space for the spinal cord and involves removing parts of bone or soft tissue that are causing compression within the disk, explains HealthGuidance.org.