What is a disc extrusion? Causes and treatment for this condition

Disc Extrusion

Disc extrusion is a degenerative spine condition where the nucleus material of a disc pushes out into the spinal column. While not necessarily painful, this condition can potentially compress a nerve, causing neck or back pain, among other symptoms. Treatment for disc extrusion is normally first attempted conservatively with a series of nonsurgical techniques. In most cases, this course of treatment sufficiently relieves the symptoms and surgery is only required in the most severe cases.

If you suspect you have a disc extrusion based on your chronic pain and other symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to properly diagnose the cause of your pain and discuss the treatment options available for your specific needs.

Causes of disc extrusion

As we grow older, the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the spine slowly begin to weaken and become brittle. When this happens, tears can develop in the fibrous walls of the discs, allowing the gel-like nucleus material to extrude into the spinal column.

Disc extrusion isn’t always symptomatic but when the ruptured disc material comes into contact with the spinal cord, nerve roots, or other spinal nerves, you may experience a variety of symptoms that can vary depending on the specific nerve that is affected. For example, a compressed nerve in the cervical (upper) spine may cause symptoms in the shoulders, arms or hands, while a pinched nerve in the lumbar (lower) spine might lead to pain in the buttocks, legs or feet.

Treatment for disc extrusion

Treatment for disc extrusion requires identifying the exact location of the herniated disc — often with the use of medical imagery such as an MRI or CT scan. In a large number of cases, a herniated disc will respond to conservative treatments. Some of the most common and effective initial treatments recommended to patients with disc extrusion include:

  • Hot or cold compresses
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Stretching techniques
  • Pain medications, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants
  • Alternative treatments like chiropractic care or acupuncture
  • Healthy diet

If you do not find the pain relief you require after several weeks of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. By using muscle-sparing techniques, our board-certified surgeons+ are able to perform these procedures on an outpatient basis, offering less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Our team can help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.