Lumbar disc protrusion

Lumbar disc protrusion is a common form of degenerative disc disease and often develops as a result of the natural aging process of the spine.

Because the lumbar spine (lower back) is responsible for supporting a majority of the body’s weight, certain elements like weight gain and disc fluid loss (disc dehydration) can lead to a damaged or protruding disc. Discs in the spine are made of jellylike fluid surrounded by a tough outer layer. When these elements of aging cause the vertebrae around the discs to compress, the discs may lose shape over time, resulting in a damaged disc flattening and expanding outward. This is called a bulging disc and is a form of a protruding disc.

Symptoms of lumbar disc protrusion

Many patients have slightly protruding discs in the lumbar spine without ever being aware of their condition. This is because a protruding disc on its own does not cause symptoms. However, if the disc protrudes into the spinal canal and touches a local nerve root, severe symptoms like pain and sciatica will often occur.

Common symptoms of lumbar disc protrusion include:

  • Chronic, low back pain
  • Pain, numbness and tingling in the legs, feet and toes
  • Back stiffness or soreness
  • Muscle weakness in the thighs and calves
  • Sciatica
  • Incontinence (in rare emergency cases)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your physician to diagnose the cause of your pain. Because disc protrusion is a type of degenerative disc disease that happens gradually, the sooner you can diagnose your symptoms, the sooner you can start finding pain relief.

Treatment for lumbar degenerative disc disease

While many patients may find relief from this condition through conservative methods of treatment, such as physical therapy, yoga and pain medication, other patients may require surgical treatment to decompress the compressed nerve root that is causing the pain and symptoms.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery for lumbar disc disease and other spine conditions. Specifically, we offer minimally invasive discectomy to remove a small portion of the damaged disc and free the trapped nerve root in the spinal canal. This is accomplished through a small, 1-inch incision that does not disrupt the muscles surrounding the spine.

For more severely damaged discs, our surgeons may remove the damaged disc altogether and replace it with an artificial disc and bone grafts during a minimally invasive stabilization surgery.

The difference between our minimally invasive procedures and traditional open back surgery and fusion is that our procedures are done through a small incision without touching the muscles and ligaments near the spine. In contrast, traditional open back surgery requires a large incision that cuts through and detaches the local muscles in order to reach the spine. This increases a patient’s risk of infection and postoperative complications. Additionally, the detached muscles add unnecessary time to a patient’s recovery while the muscles heal along with the spine.

For more information about the advantages of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today. One of our spine care experts can review your MRI or CT scan and help you make a confident decision about your spine care treatment.