A disc protrusion can be a painful condition under certain circumstances, but what causes a disc protrusion? There are many causes, yet the main factor is age.
Medical research has found the following: According to the U. S. National Institutes of Health, at birth the human body contains 90% water, at adulthood it contains 70% water, and by age 90 it contains about 50% water. Additionally, the composition of elastin, the protein giving tissues the ability to stretch, chemically changes. With age elastin undergoes chemical cross-linking. This decreases the ability to stretch. With aging, bodies desiccate and become less stretchable. These two facts explain disc degeneration. Discs have two main components, an outer fibro-elastic containment rim and an inner soft gelatinous core. When axial loading pressure occurs along the spinal column, the central gelatinous core of the disc squeezes outward against the fibro-elastic containment rim of the disc. The elastic recoil of the containment wall pushes the gelatinous core back into position, reestablishing the height shape of the disc. As a person ages, natural daily activity causes repeated loading of the disc. Tiny tears may develop in the fibers of the fibro-elastic outer containment wall. This causes some loss of the disc’s outer containment wall elasticity or recoil. The outer disc containment wall can no longer push the central core material back into shape as effectively. The outer containment wall sags, and may protrude.
- Lifestyle habits – Smoking cigarettes excretes toxins into the body, which have been linked to disc degeneration. Other issues such as obesity, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise further contribute to the weakening of the intervertebral discs.
- Trauma – Falling from a high altitude and landing on your feet or buttocks can create enough of a jolt to cause a disc protrusion. Picking up heavy items while bent at the waist (instead of lifting with your legs) – or getting involved in a car accident – are other examples of neck and back trauma that can damage the intervertebral discs.
- Genetics – A few genes carry mutations that predispose some people to degenerative disc disease, thereby placing them at a higher risk for the condition.
If you are in pain
Sometimes conservative treatments such as medication, chiropractic sessions, and physical therapy may not sufficiently reduce the pain that can arise from a disc protrusion. If surgery is prescribed, it is reasonable to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute, offering efficacious procedures with shorter convalescent period and lower risk when compared with traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information.