Central disc protrusion is a type of spinal disc disorder that can result in neck or back pain, as well as other symptoms due to nerve irritation. The exact origin and severity of a disc protrusion dictates the extent of an individual’s pain or discomfort caused by the problematic disc.
In a healthy spine, the vertebrae in the neck and back are separated by tough, pliable discs that are roughly ovoid in shape and act as the spine’s natural shock absorbers. When functioning correctly, these discs work with the vertebral joints to give the spine flexibility and range of motion. In the case of a central disc protrusion, the disc bulges directly posterior to its normal position and into the center of the spinal canal where the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots are located. Projection into this location may result in pressure on the spinal cord and the nerve roots, causing the patient to potentially experience neck or back pain and other nervous system disorders.
A disc protrusion can occur at any point along the circumference of the disc:
- Central disc protrusion – the bulge occurs at the posterior, toward the center of the spinal canal, where the spinal cord is located
- Paracentral disc protrusion – the bulge occurs toward the center right or center left of the midline of the spinal canal, where the spinal cord and nerve roots are located
- Posterolateral disc protrusion – the bulge occurs to the back and left or right side of the spinal canal, where nerve roots branch off the spinal cord
- Lateral disc protrusion – the bulge occurs to the left or right of the spinal canal, where nerve roots branch off the spinal cord
Compression of a spinal nerve root may give rise to symptoms known collectively as radiculopathy. The symptoms of a central disc protrusion that interferes with a nerve root can include:
- Muscle weakness
- Radiating or traveling pain along the nerve
- The sensation of heat or pins and needles
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, legs or feet
- Incontinence (in emergency cases)
Central disc protrusion results from a number of circumstances, ranging from avoidable causes (e.g., trauma, poor lifting technique or sports injury) to unavoidable ones (genetics, aging, degenerative disc disease and more). Usually, disc protrusions are asymptomatic, or at least manageable. Most often, a physician can effectively help a patient manage symptoms with a non-surgical conservative disc protrusion treatment plan.
A small segment of the population experiencing central disc protrusion, however, does not respond to conservative treatments and may require surgery. If surgery is your only option, consider Laser Spine Institute. Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive neck and back surgical procedures are performed on an outpatient basis with less risk and a markedly decreased recovery period than traditional spine surgery. To learn more about how this exciting branch of medicine successfully treats a range of spinal conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute today.