Disc extrusion symptoms will vary depending on the severity of your extrusion, or herniation, and its location along the spine. However, understanding how to recognize the symptoms is an extremely important part of the diagnostic process. As you begin to experience symptoms that you suspect may be due to an extruded disc, write down some notes about the location, severity, nature, and frequency of your discomfort. The more information you can give your doctor, the more accurate a diagnosis will be.
Understanding Referred Disc Extrusion Symptoms
Symptoms of a disc extrusion can be especially hard to identify because the discomfort is often referred, which means that it occurs in a region of the body other than the actual site of the condition. Below is a brief description of how an extruded disc in the back or neck can result in referred pain in the extremities:
- Extrusion – due to degeneration or injury, the outer wall of an intervertebral disc tears and the inner disc material extrudes into the spinal canal. This can lead to nerve compression. The primary cause of disc extrusion is degeneration associated with the aging proces and therefore cannot always be prevented.
- Compression – the extruded inner disc material compresses nearby spinal nerves. These nerves are in charge of sending sensory and motor signals to a variety of locations throughout the body, including the arms, hands, legs, and feet. A compressed nerve will send a distress signal to the brain.
- Pain – the brain interprets signals from the compressed nerve and tells the regions of the body innervated by that compressed nerve to react accordingly. Mild nerve compression can cause radiating pain, while prolonged, severe nerve compression can cause disc extrusion symptoms of weakness, tingling, numbness, or muscle atrophy.
Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
For the majority of people who suffer from a disc extrusion, surgery will not be required to achieve lasting pain relief. Your doctor may suggest a regimen of conservative disc extrusion treatment that includes pain medication, behavior modification, gentle yoga, and low-impact exercise. If weeks or months of these methods prove ineffective, you do have options for more targeted treatments. Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Contact us today for more information or for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.