What is disc protrusion?

In order to properly define disc protrusion, it is necessary to have at least a passing knowledge of the components of a spinal disc and the stages of age-related disc deterioration. The discs serve as sponge-like cushions between the vertebrae and are composed of a tough outer layer and a gel-like inner center.

As the body ages, the jellylike core of the discs begins to lose water content. The outsides can become brittle and weak and the discs eventually lose height. This results in an inability to serve their function as the spine’s shock absorbers. To learn about the various stages of disc degeneration as well as the symptoms and treatments for this condition, read the following article.

The stages of disc degeneration

Disc deterioration usually takes place in stages. It begins with disc protrusion, where the disc’s gel-like center begins to push into the spinal column. This typically involves less than 180 degrees of the disc’s circumference. Next, the center of the disc pushes outside of the normal boundaries of the disc and into the disc’s wall, creating a bulge. A bulging disc involves more than half of the disc’s circumference. The final stage is disc herniation, in which the disc wall has ruptured and nucleus material has begun to leak into the spinal canal.

Disc protrusion symptoms and treatment

Disc protrusion does not typically require surgery, although it may be that in rare cases, nonsurgical treatment does not suffice. If debilitating symptoms such as neck or back pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in the extremities have begun to affect your quality of life, and you have not found relief from a conservative regimen like pain medication and physical therapy, then contact Laser Spine Institute.

At Laser Spine Institute, our board-certified surgeons+ can perform a minimally invasive discectomy to relieve spinal nerve compression caused by a protruding disc or other disc-related conditions. To learn if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient procedures, reach out to our dedicated team and ask for a free MRI review.* We have helped more than 75,000 patients find lasting relief from their chronic neck or back pain and we look forward to helping you on your road to recovery.