What is a disc protrusion?

A disc protrusion occurs when part of a spinal disc bulges out from its normal place in the spinal column. This condition is similar to a bulging disc, but is generally defined as involving a smaller part of the circumference of the disc. Disc protrusion is an age-related condition that occurs due to natural loss of water and protein content in the discs that makes them lose elasticity. This in turn makes the discs less able to withstand the pressure they are being placed under every day, which can cause part of the disc to be pushed out of its normal place.

Pain and other symptoms related to a disc protrusion can be debilitating, taking you away from the people and activities you love. By learning more about this condition and the treatment options available, you can be more engaged as a patient and give yourself a better chance of achieving long-term relief.

Symptoms of disc protrusion

A disc protrusion typically does not cause symptoms unless it pressures the spinal cord or one of the spinal nerve roots. When a nerve is compressed, it can cause both local pain and symptoms that radiate along the length of the nerve. While a disc protrusion can occur at any point along the spinal column, it is most likely to occur in the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions due to the weight these areas support combined with their relative flexibility.

If the compression is located in the lumbar region, feelings of pain, burning, numbness, muscle spasms, weakness and tingling may radiate into the buttocks, thighs, calves or even the feet. Cervical disc protrusions causing nerve root compression can cause symptoms to occur in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.

Treatment for disc protrusion

When this condition is diagnosed, doctors will usually begin treatment with a course of conservative therapies such as medication, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. Spine surgery is usually considered as a last resort, but it can become an option if symptoms continue to be disruptive to quality of life and other options have been exhausted. If you are dealing with a disc protrusion and are exploring your surgical options, the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute may be able to help you find relief. Our orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons are able to perform these procedures on an outpatient basis through the use of muscle-sparing techniques. Contact us today for more information.

A member of our dedicated team will be happy to help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.