Disc protrusion — more information and treatment options

Disc protrusion is another term for a herniated disc or bulging disc. This condition is often naturally occurring with the aging process of the spine. Years of repetitive motion and weight gain cause the components of the spine to press down on the discs in between the vertebrae. As this happens, a disc might flatten under the pressure and expand into the spinal canal, creating what some physicians refer to as a “pancake effect.” When the flattened disc protrudes into the spinal canal, the outer layer of the disc could tear open from the pressure and leak inner disc fluid into the spinal canal.

The symptoms associated with this condition are neck pain, back pain, weakness, numbness or tingling of the extremities. If you are experiencing the symptoms of disc protrusion, or bulging disc, you should contact your physician as soon as possible to determine the location and severity of your damaged disc. Once this is diagnosed, your physician can work with you to find a conservative or surgical treatment option to treat your pain and symptoms.

Causes of disc protrusion

Disc protrusion is commonly classified as a degenerative spine condition or degenerative disc disease. As previously explained, the discs in between the vertebrae are meant to cushion and absorb shock from the vertebrae as they bend, twist and support the weight of the body. As the body gains weight and performs the same movements over several years, the discs begin to wear down in certain places. This can lead to the development of disc protrusion.

A protruded disc, or bulging disc, often progresses slowly due to the natural development of these conditions. There are three main stages of degenerative disc disease:

  • Bulging disc — The disc’s inner material pushes beyond its normal boundary and into the thick outer wall, creating a bulge.

  • Disc protrusion — This occurs when the bulge is still contained within the outer wall, yet is pushing even further into the spinal column.

  • Herniated disc — The disc’s outer wall finally gives way, allowing the inner material of the disc to leak out.

Because of the degenerative nature of this condition, a protruded disc commonly develops in the cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine (lower back) because those are the two areas of the spine that support the weight of the head and body and offer movement.

First steps to finding treatment options for a disc protrusion

If treatment is started quickly, many conservative therapies can help reduce the pain and symptoms of a protruded disc significantly. However, if treatment is delayed and the disc continues to become more damaged, surgery may be the only reliable treatment option.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to help remove a portion of or the entire diseased disc from placing pressure on the nerve root in the spinal canal and causing your pain and symptoms. For more information about the minimally invasive surgeries that have earned a 97% patient satisfaction rate, please contact our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute today.