Disc protrusion — what causes this condition?

A disc protrusion is a disc in the spine that has been compressed and, as a result, has protruded out of its normal place in the spinal column. Like other disc conditions such as a bulging or herniated disc, disc protrusions can cause debilitating symptoms that interfere with your life. Learning more about the underlying causes can be a great first step in helping you find effective treatment.

Disc protrusion is most often caused by the natural degeneration process of the spine. Over time, the spinal discs begin to lose water and inner disc fluid, making the discs less elastic and able to withstand stress. While this is a gradual change, the damage caused by this can be expedited by other factors, such as weight gain.

When the body gains weight, the vertebrae that are responsible for supporting the body’s weight and movement experience compression. When the vertebrae compress, they push down on the discs in the spine. Over time, the elasticity in the disc’s outer layer eventually gives way, allowing the disc to lose shape and height and expand outward beyond the normal parameters of the spine.

Other causes of disc protrusion

While degenerative disc issues often occur naturally over time, there are certain factors that can expedite the process or increase a patient’s risk for developing the condition. Additionally, there are other contributing factors for a disc to protrude, such as:

  • Lifestyle habits. Smoking cigarettes increases toxins in the body and has been linked to disc degeneration. Other issues such as obesity, poor posture, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise further contribute to the weakening of the discs.
  • Trauma. Sustaining a fall, suffering a high-impact sports injury or getting involved in a car accident are other situations that can result in neck and back trauma that can damage the discs.
  • Genetics. There is some evidence that a person can be genetically predisposed to spine issues, especially since conditions like a disc protrusion tend to run in families.

Treatments for disc protrusion

While often effective, in some cases conservative treatments such as medication, chiropractic sessions and physical therapy may not sufficiently reduce the pain that can arise from a disc protrusion.

If surgery is recommended, we encourage you to explore the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified+ surgeons are able to perform spine surgery through a small incision that involves muscle-sparing techniques and an outpatient procedure. We provide minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures to help patients dealing with a wide range of conditions.

To learn more about our minimally invasive procedures to treat disc protrusion, please contact Laser Spine Institute today. We are here to help you find the best treatment option for your spine care needs.

Ask us about our no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.