Spinal disc protrusion

A spinal disc protrusion is a common condition that describes a spinal disc bulging out of its normal alignment into the spinal column. While a disc protrusion in the spine can sometimes be caused by a sudden injury or trauma, it is most commonly associated with the natural aging process of the spine.

Over time, the spinal discs, which cushion the vertebrae in the spine, deteriorate with age and years of wear and tear combined with a natural loss of water and protein content. These normal changes can potentially lead to spine conditions like disc protrusion, bulging discs, herniated discs and spinal arthritis.

Symptoms of disc protrusion in the spine

The symptoms of a spinal disc protrusion may differ depending on where in the spine this condition develops. Spinal disc protrusion can occur in the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) or lumbar (lower) regions of the spine.

In some cases, a spinal disc protrusion does not touch a nerve root, which means no symptoms of pain or discomfort are felt. However, if a nearby nerve is pinched, the following symptoms may develop:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or burning sensation
  • Numbness
  • Limited mobility

These symptoms may appear at the site of the compressed nerve, or they may radiate to other areas of the body, depending on where the spinal disc protrusion occurs. Below are examples of the possible areas that can be affected by a spine disc protrusion and nerve compression:

  • Cervical disc protrusion. Symptoms in this area may radiate from neck to shoulders, arms and hands. You may experience pain when moving your head.
  • Thoracic disc protrusion. Pain may feel as if it is surrounding the chest, rib cage and torso.
  • Lumbar disc protrusion. Symptoms can appear in the lower back or area of the tailbone, or may travel from the lower back, down through the legs and feet.

Treatment for spine disc protrusion

For many patients, spinal disc protrusion can be treated with conservative therapies, such as pain medication, weight loss and exercise. There are many additional types of nonsurgical treatment, and your doctor can work with you to create a plan to help relieve your pain and symptoms.

However, if these conservative treatments are not effective after several months, you should contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the minimally invasive spine surgery we perform to treat damaged discs and other spine conditions. Our minimally invasive procedures are an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering our patients a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication.^

Reach out to Laser Spine Institute today for a free MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.