What does it mean if I have a disc extrusion?

Disc Extrusion

Disc extrusion, also referred to as a ruptured or herniated disc, is a degenerative spine condition that can lead to nerve compression and significant neck and back pain. This potentially painful condition is often caused by nothing more than the natural aging process, although traumatic injury and other environmental factors can hasten its onset.

If you suspect you have a disc extrusion in your spine, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Though the symptoms of this condition may develop slowly, they can worsen over time without treatment, and you may find yourself having difficultly performing your normal activities, such as walking or household chores. Treatment of disc extrusion typically begins with a series of nonsurgical, conservative treatments designed to decompress a pinched nerve in the spine and allow the disc to heal over time.

How does a disc extrusion develop?

The vertebrae in the spine are cushioned and separated by thick, spongy discs that consist of a tough, fibrous outer shell and a gel-like inner nucleus material. Over the years, these discs are subjected to an extreme amount of wear and tear and the walls of the discs can weaken and become brittle. Eventually, tears may develop in the walls of a disc, allowing the nucleus material to extrude into the spinal column, potentially compressing a spinal nerve.

Some of the most common symptoms of disc extrusion and nerve compression include:

  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Pain at the site of nerve compression in the neck or back
  • Unexpected muscle weakness
  • Pain that travels along the compressed nerve
  • A burning or pins-and-needles feeling
  • Numbness or tingling


If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is possible that disc extrusion is to blame. In the event that a degenerative spine condition like disc extrusion is determined to be causing your pain, your physician will typically first attempt to manage the symptoms with a series of conservative treatments, such as pain medication, hot or cold compresses, limited rest and low-impact exercise.

Contact Laser Spine Institute if your pain from disc extrusion does not subside after several weeks, and learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient spine procedures may be able to provide you with the pain relief you need. Our Spine Care Consultants can tell you how to get a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.