What is Disc Extrusion?
The spine, also commonly referred to as the “backbone”, is a complex system made up of vertebrae, shock-absorbing discs, cartilage, joints, muscles and ligaments. Its purpose is to protect the spinal cord, facilitate movement and support the weight and flexibility of the upper body. A great deal of stress is placed upon the spine as we perform everyday activities. Over time, the spine begins to deteriorate as a result of constant strain and exertion, as well as the intervertebral discs becoming less hydrated.
Disc extrusion is a degenerative spine condition that can lead to nerve compression, pain, discomfort and other debilitating symptoms. Each intervertebral disc in the spine is comprised of a tough, protective outer shell and a soft, liquid-like inner nucleus. When these discs are subjected to wear and tear or accidents, their walls can become susceptible to tears that allow the inner liquid to leak into the spine, pressing upon nearby nerves and disrupting the spine’s stability. An extruded disc is sometimes referred to as a “herniated” or “ruptured” disc.
Disc Extrusion Causes
The body’s natural aging process is the primary cause behind disc extrusion. However, there are many additional factors that can spur disc extrusion or speed its onset, including:
- Sudden injuries, traumas or accidents, such as those that may occur during a fall, high-impact sport or car crash
- The repetition of strenuous movements, including jobs that involve a significant amount of manual labor and sports that demand the use of the lower back
- Improperly lifting heavy objects
- Excess weight or obesity
- Lack of exercise
- Genetic predisposition or congenital complication
- A blow to the back
- Sudden twisting
- Rapidly sitting or standing, especially in elderly adults
If you believe you may be at risk for premature or intense disc extrusions, schedule a consultation with one of our highly-skilled spine specialists. Through proactive treatment, the symptoms and severity of a disc extrusion can often be managed effectively and inhibiting secondary conditions can be avoided. Obtaining prompt care is also important in order to rule out other potential causes of pain, such as a tumor or spinal stenosis.
Disc Extrusion Symptoms
Usually, an extruding disc does not become noticeable until it begins to affect nearby tissues. Some of the most common symptoms of disc extrusion include:
- Stiffness or soreness
- Muscle weakness
- Acute or chronic pain that radiates from the compressed nerve and associated extremities
- Numbness or a pins-and-needles sensation
- Tingling or burning sensations
- Sharp, sudden pangs
- An inability to perform everyday activities like bending, rising or sitting down without encountering discomfort or pain
- Neck, arm or leg pain
The symptoms of a disc extrusion vary widely and depend upon the location and amount of damage done to the affected disc. If you or a loved one begin to evince bleeding, trouble breathing or incontinence of the bladder or bowels, call 911 as a medical emergency may be occurring.
Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach
If you are suffering from disc extrusion-related symptoms, you do not have to live with your pain as a permanent part of your everyday life. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our Board-certified spine experts will work with you to ensure safe, effective and rapid relief. We are committed to providing personalized attention and innovative, state-of-the-art care that exceeds your expectations.
During your initial consultation, one of our experienced physicians will carefully and compassionately evaluate your medical history, physical state and symptoms. To obtain a comprehensive and clear diagnosis, imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI or X-ray may be requested. After identifying your condition, we will design a customized treatment plan tailored to meet your unique needs and specifications.
Generally, our spine specialists recommend exploring conservative treatment options before resorting to surgery. Patients are often surprised at the amount of reprieve non-surgical methods of care can bring. Frequently implemented conservative treatments may include:
Exercise and Physical Therapy: Many men and women suffering from chronic back pain assume that bed rest is necessary. However, perhaps counterintuitively, constant inactivity usually worsens spine conditions. By strengthening the abdominal muscles, losing extra pounds and improving flexibility, it is possible to reduce the amount of stress placed upon the spine and lessen the negative effects of a disc extrusion. Physical therapy and moderate exercise play a central role in almost all spine recuperation endeavors.
Medication: Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can reduce the inflammation associated with a disc extrusion. This may allow patients to take up long-term rehabilitation methods, such as physical therapy. In addition, localized cortisone injections can often provide relief from symptoms for longer periods of time.
Additional Treatments: Professional massage, the use of ice packs and heating pads, proper footwear and lifestyle adjustments can all help combat the pain and stiffness associated with a disc extrusion. The treatments that will best benefit your individual case will depend upon the location and severity of your issue.
Usually, disc extrusion complications can be managed through conservative methods. However, if a patient does not experience sufficient relief from non-invasive treatments, surgical intervention may be necessary. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our acclaimed surgeons specialize in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries. When compared to traditional open surgeries, minimally invasive procedures to correct a disc extrusion typically yield benefits that include:
- Shortened recovery times that allow patients to return to work and school faster
- Less post-operative pain
- A reduced risk of scarring
- Minimal blood loss and interference with surrounding muscles and soft tissues
- Fewer potential complications
The surgical approach used will depend upon the patient’s preferences, as well as medical factors. If a patient is obese or has substantial adhesions (typically referred to as scar tissue) from a previous surgery, an open operation may be required. Because our surgeons have a wide range of experience performing both traditional and minimally invasive surgeries, we are able to provide the procedure that best fits your needs.
To learn more about disc extrusions or Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us directly at 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on this page. We look forward to helping you feel better, faster, so that you can regain the quality of life that you deserve!