What Causes a Disc Protrusion?

What Causes a Disc Protrusion?

A disc protrusion can be a painful condition under certain circumstances, but what causes a disc protrusion? There are many causes, yet the main factor is age.

Medical research has found the following: According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, at birth the human body contains 90 percent water, at adulthood it contains 70 percent water, and by age 90 it contains about 50 percent water. Additionally, the composition of elastin, the protein giving tissues the ability to stretch, chemically changes. With age, elastin undergoes chemical cross-linking. This decreases the ability to stretch. With aging, bodies desiccate and become less pliable. These two facts explain disc degeneration. Discs have two main components, an outer fibro-elastic containment rim and an inner soft gelatinous core. When axial loading pressure occurs along the spinal column, the central gelatinous core of the disc squeezes outward against the fibro-elastic containment rim of the disc. The elastic recoil of the containment wall pushes the gelatinous core back into position, re-establishing the height shape of the disc. As a person ages, natural daily activity causes repeated loading of the disc. Small tears may develop in the fibers of the fibro-elastic outer containment wall. This causes some loss of the disc’s outer containment wall elasticity or recoil. The outer disc containment wall can no longer push the central core material back into shape as effectively. The outer containment wall sags, and may protrude.

Other causes

  • Lifestyle habits – Smoking cigarettes excretes toxins into the body and has been linked to disc degeneration. Other issues such as obesity, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise further contribute to the weakening of the intervertebral discs.
  • Trauma – Falling from a high altitude and landing on your feet or buttocks can create enough of a jolt to cause a disc protrusion. Picking up heavy items while bent at the waist (instead of lifting with your legs) and or getting involved in a car accident are other situations that can result in neck and back trauma that can damage the intervertebral discs.
  • Genetics – A few genes carry mutations that predispose some people to degenerative disc disease, thereby placing them at a higher risk for the condition.

If you are in pain

Sometimes 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 prescribed, it is reasonable to determine the least invasive and most effective surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures are more effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for your MRI or CT scan review, and to receive more information.