Disc protrusion risk factors

By Michael Perry, M.D.

For those experiencing neck or back pain due to a disc protrusion, understanding the risk factors behind this condition can help you minimize its effects and prevent future occurrences. A disc protrusion is often related to age-related deterioration of the spinal discs that cushion the vertebrae. The weight of the body, combined with a weakened disc wall, may cause the disc to push outward, or bulge, beyond its normal boundary. A disc protrusion does not always cause symptoms, but pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness can occur if the disc puts pressure on a surrounding nerve.

Preventing disc protrusion

While natural spinal degeneration due to aging is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to keep your spine healthy and strong and help prevent disc protrusions:

  • Don’t smoke, or make a plan with your physician to cease tobacco use
  • Exercise regularly, especially with methods that strengthen the core
  • Sit and stand with good posture
  • Use proper lifting technique
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Practice good nutrition habits

Treatment options

Even if you follow the above steps, it may not be possible to avoid a disc protrusion. If the source of your neck or back pain turns out to be a disc protrusion there are a variety of treatment options available to you. Upon diagnosis, most primary care physicians begin to treat a disc protrusion with a course of conservative treatment options. Common methods include:

  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Hot and cold compression treatment
  • Pain medication
  • Stretching
  • Avoiding sitting for extended periods of time
  • Epidural steroid injections

If weeks or months of treatment do not bring enough improvement of symptoms to regain normal activities, surgery may start to become an option. Physicians and patients alike see traditional open spine surgery as a last resort because of the risks and difficulties involved. To access the spine, a traditional spine surgeon needs to use a large incision that cuts and tears muscles and can lead to a long, often painful, recuperation period.

Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to traditional open back procedures with minimally invasive spine surgery. Our surgeons can use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, sparing muscles and allowing our procedures to be performed on an outpatient basis. This means a shorter recovery time that lets our patients get back to their lives faster.

To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We would be glad to provide a no-cost review of your MRI* to determine if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery.