Central disc protrusion is a type of spinal disc disorder that can result in neck or back pain, as well as other symptoms stemming from 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 back and neck are separated by tough, pliable discs that 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 cause pressure on the spinal cord and the nerve roots, causing the patient to potentially exhibit neck or back pain and other nervous system disorders.
Discs are roughly ovoid in shape. A disc protrusion can occur at any point along the circumference of the disc:
- Central disc protrusion – the bulge occurs posteriorly 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
- Lateral disc protrusion – the bulge occurs to the left or right of the spinal canal, where nerve roots branch off the spinal cord
- 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
Compression of a spinal nerve root may give rise to symptoms known collectively as radiculopathy. Central disc protrusion symptoms can include:
- Radiating or traveling pain along the nerve
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
- The sensation of heat or pins and needles
- Incontinence (in emergency cases)
Central disc protrusion results from a number of potential sources, ranging from avoidable causes (e.g., trauma, poor lifting technique, or sports injury) and to unavoidable ones (genetics, aging, degenerative disc disease, and more). Usually disc protrusions are asymptomatic or at least manageable. Typically, a physician can effectively help a patient manage symptoms with a non-surgical conservative disc protrusion treatment plan.
However, a small segment of the population suffering from central disc protrusion does not respond to conservative treatments and may require surgery. If surgery is your only option, investigate Laser Spine Institute. Laser Spine Institute’s endoscopic neck and back surgical procedures are performed on an outpatient basis with less risk and a markedly decreased convalescent period when compared with 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.