Disc extrusion risk factors

A disc extrusion occurs when a disc in the spine moves out of alignment or tears due to constant pressure from the surrounding vertebrae.

Although the most common cause of a disc extrusion is the natural weakening of the spine over time, there are several disc extrusion risk factors you can avoid by simply practicing healthy spine habits. We encourage you to review the risk factors and prevention methods of disc extrusion, and schedule a meeting with your doctor if you need help making certain lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and not abusing alcohol or tobacco.

How does aging cause disc extrusion?

Over the years, natural wear and tear on the spine — joints, bones, discs, ligaments, etc. — causes degeneration.

The discs, in particular, are affected by the natural aging process. Discs are the support cushions for the vertebrae of the spine, resting between each set of vertebrae and allowing them to bend and move without colliding. As certain factors of age occur, including repetitive motion, disc dehydration and weight gain, the discs begin to lose their height and elasticity, making them prone to damage.

When a disc extrudes, it can flatten under the pressure of the surrounding vertebrae and expand outward. In some cases, the discs may expand to the point that the elastic outer layer tears and inner disc material leaks into the spine.

The development of an extruded disc does not necessarily mean you will experience any symptoms. Only when the bulging disc presses on nearby spinal nerves or the spinal cord will symptoms be felt.

Symptoms of disc extrusion

The symptoms most commonly associated with an extruded disc include:

  • Pain localized at the site of nerve compression
  • Pain that travels throughout the nerve being pinched
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

Treatment options for disc extrusion

While many patients can find relief from conservative methods of treatment, such as physical therapy and pain medication, other patients may require spine surgery to treat the pain at its source.

If you are still searching for pain relief after months of nonsurgical treatment, you may be a candidate for the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures offer patients a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery by lowering the risk of infection and complication and shortening the overall recovery time.§

To treat a disc extrusion, you may be recommended a discectomy procedure. This procedure is performed through a small incision that avoids the muscles and ligaments near the spine. The surgeon will remove a small portion of the damaged disc to release the pressure on the compressed nerve that is causing your pain. In some severe cases of disc extrusion, the surgeon may remove the disc altogether and replace it with an artificial disc during a stabilization surgery.

Take the next step toward pain relief and contact us today to request a review of your MRI or CT scan.