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Understanding the problem

A collapsed disc is a disc in the spine that has lost its normal height due to pressure from the surrounding vertebrae or injury. The terms “collapsed disc” and “herniated disc” are often used interchangeably. While they are related conditions, the definition of each is slightly different. While a collapsed disc is a disc that loses height, usually due to compression in the spine from age and deterioration, a herniated disc occurs when the outer wall of the disc tears under pressure and the nucleus material seeps into the spinal canal.

Both conditions occur most frequently in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine, where the vertebrae bear significant body weight and are subjected to a wide range of motion.

Understanding who suffers

A collapsed disc can develop due a series of degenerative conditions, meaning conditions that develop as the spine naturally deteriorates and weakens with age. These degenerative conditions can include:

  • Herniated disc - This condition occurs when the jellylike interior of a disc extrudes through a tear in the disc’s tough exterior. The tear can be caused by degenerative changes that occur as a person ages or as a result of traumatic injury.
  • Bulging disc - The causes of a bulging disc are similar to those of a herniated disc. With this condition, however, the interior of the disc remains contained within the outer fibers, but the disc becomes flattened and extends beyond its usual perimeters.
  • Degenerative disc disease - As a person ages, the spinal discs can become weaker and lose water content. When this happens, the discs tend to lose height and the space between the vertebrae can become smaller.

Other causes of a collapsed disc include sudden injury or trauma that causes the disc to flatten and change shape.

Potential Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms are typically experienced when the space between the vertebrae becomes so narrowed that nearby spinal nerve roots are compressed. When a spinal nerve is compressed, patients can experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation
  • Limited mobility
Examinations Usually Required

The first step in the diagnostic process is a discussion between the patient and the physician that covers the patient’s medical history and a full disclosure of the symptoms a patient is experiencing. A physical exam likely will follow, where the patient will be tested for nerve function, muscle strength and reflexes. From the information gleaned during this exam, a physician can be fairly certain a patient has an injured intervertebral disc. Imaging tests like a CT or MRI scan may follow so that the physician can confirm a disc collapse through detailed pictures of the spine.

Proposing Treatment and Why AIMIS

Following the diagnosis of a collapsed disc, conservative non-surgical treatment will initially be proposed. If conservative treatment fails to provide relief, your physician might recommend surgery.

AIMIS is an expert in spine surgery and can provide minimally invasive procedures for a collapsed disc and can review and propose your type and course of treatment.

  • Discectomy - involves the partial removal of a damaged disc that is causing symptoms. In removing the damaged part of the disc, pain can be alleviated, as well as the potential weakness and numbness caused by its impingement on a surrounding nerve.
  • Laminotomy - to remove the bony roof of a vertebra so as to provide more space to compressed nerves and relieving the symptoms caused by impingement.
  • Foraminotomy – involved the widening a vertebral opening to allow nerves to pass through to innervate the other areas of the body, providing more room for compressed , relieving the symptoms ranging from localized pain to radiating weakness.
  • Fusions – in the case where the collapsed disc has lost significant height and can no longer support the surrounding vertebrae, spinal fusion involves the removal of the collapsed intervertebral disc, followed by a repositioning and fusing of the two neighbouring vertebrae.

AIMIS provides various surgical options depending on an individual’s problem and include:

  • Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery,
  • Minimally Invasive Stabilization Surgery,
  • Laminotomy,
  • Foraminotomy,
  • Discectomy,
  • Micro-Discectomy,
  • Micro-Decompression,
  • Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery,
  • Total Disk Replacement (TDR),
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion,
  • Decompressor Discectomy,
  • Lumbar Disc Microsurgery Treatment

Why minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat spine problems with less injury to the muscles and other normal structures in the spine. It also assists the surgeon to see where the problem exists in the spine. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve a long incision as is open surgery which helps to avoid damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a significant faster recovery.

Spine surgery is normally recommended once a period of nonsurgical treatment likely including medications and physical therapy has not provided pain relief caused by the back problem. Surgery is considered when the source of your pain and underlying cause can be identified and surgical procedure proposed. Minimally invasive techniques today are common and being used for a wide range of spine procedures.

Benefits of minimal invasive spine surgery include:

  • Small incisions
  • Less pain. Often less pain than open procedures because less of the natural anatomy is disrupted
  • Shorter Hospital stay
  • Quicker return to daily activities
  • Lower infection and complication rate
  • Less blood loss. Smaller incisions also mean less blood loss, which can ultimately improve outcomes.

Minimally invasive procedures take a surgery that could be a dramatic event and makes it have less of an impact

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Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons

AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment

Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
  • Can I get more information before I commit to this?
  • Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
  • How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:

AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.


AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.

Further information on the problem:

There are a few types of collapsed discs that can affect the spine, but those involving the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine are both the most common and the most readily treatable. The cervical and lumbar regions refer to those parts of the spine located in the neck and lower back, respectively. Collapsed discs can also affect the thoracic region of the spine, which is composed of the 12 vertebrae located in between the cervical and lumbar regions.

The main difference between cervical and lumbar collapsed discs is the location of symptoms reported by the patient. Cervical collapsed discs are expected to produce their characteristic symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and/or fingers. Some patients with cervical radiculopathy (a technical term for pathologic conditions affecting the nerve roots) also report having headaches.

Collapsed discs affecting the lumbar region of the spine, on the other hand, are expected to produce symptoms in the lower body, such as the buttocks, legs, feet and/or toes. One common consequence of a collapsed lumbar disc is sciatica, which is radiculopathy affecting the longest nerve in the human body - the sciatic nerve.

Further Information on Increased Risk Groups

Risk factors that can lead toward the development of a collapsed disc include both preventable and changeable factors, as well as those that are uncontrollable, including:

  • Weight - Patients who are overweight are more likely to develop a collapsed disc because of the extra stress that excess weight places on the neck and back.
  • Age - The spine naturally degenerates as we age. Patients who are over the age of 35 are more likely to develop a collapsed disc as a result of these degenerative changes.
  • Smoking - Tobacco use decreases oxygen levels in the blood, which can affect numerous parts of the body. Smoking can deprive the body of essential nutrients, and intervertebral discs are no exception. Carbon monoxide from smoking poisons enzymes, hastening degeneration.
  • Physical demands - Working in a physically demanding job or participating in high-impact sports, such as gymnastics and football, can place additional wear and tear on the spine. This overexertion can cause accelerated degenerative changes in the spine that may lead to a collapsed disc.
Why AIMIS for this Surgery

AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.

Other Services Provided by AIMIS

In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.