Disc Tear Symptoms and Causes

Disc tear symptoms can occur when the nucleus of a torn disc pushes into the damaged annulus and comes in contact with the spinal cord or nerve roots. Patients who show signs of a torn disc can feel a great deal of local pain and referred pain that can be felt along the nerve pathway that runs down the legs or arms, depending on which disc has been damaged. Numbness, tingling and weakness along these neural pathways are also common symptoms of a torn disc that is compressing a nerve.

An early and accurate diagnosis is essential for successful torn disc treatment. While some patients experience any or all of the below torn disc symptoms, other patients are completely asymptomatic (meaning they have no symptoms at all). Without any signs of a torn disc, some patients are completely unaware of their spinal condition.

What Are the Causes of a Torn Disc? The majority of torn discs are caused by the degenerative process that affects our spinal column as we grow older. This process weakens our discs, leaving them at risk of tearing. Typically, by the age of 30, our discs have already begun to weaken and lose their flexibility. Once this occurs, simple traumas such as twisting or bending might be all that is needed to tear the outer shell of a vertebral disc. Traumatic injuries account for most torn disc causes in younger, healthier spines.

Symptoms of a torn Cervical Disc

  • Neck pain located near the injured disc.
  • Pain along the entire nerve pathway, through the shoulder and down the arm into the hand.
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm and (possibly) the hand.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Progressive muscular weakness can occur if the condition is left untreated.
  • Loss of coordination may develop if the nerve compression is left untreated.

Symptoms of a torn Lumbar Disc

  • Lower back pain near the injured disc.
  • Pain that travels along the nerve pathway, through the buttocks, legs, and feet.
  • Numbness or tingling felt in the leg and (possibly) the foot.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Symptoms similar to Sciatica.
  • Loss of coordination if the nerve compression is left untreated.