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Disc Protrusion — Back Surgery Diagnosis and Prevention

Author:  
Deuk Spine Web Team
An expert in all things spine, Dr. Deukmedjain is a board certified neurosurgeon who has performed thousands of minimally invasive surgeries and procedures including the revolutionary Deuk Laser Disc Repair and the Deuk Spinal Fusion. 

You may have at some point heard the term “disc protrusion” if you have ever visited your doctor with back pain. Despite having a terrible and frightening seeming ailment, it is actually extremely curable and usually gets better within a few weeks. It is comparable to a herniated disc or disc herniation.

 

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms outlined in this article, it’s time to get a FREE Consultation and MRI Review with Deuk Spine Institute. We will help relieve your pain and get you back to living your life without limitations!

 

A Disc Protrusion: What Is It?

A disc in your back is like a jelly pastry without any holes. If jelly protrudes out of the opening, that is a disc protrusion. However, if you squeeze the pastry, the additional jelly will leak from the hole, indicating that you have a herniated disc. The jelly is the material inside the disc between each vertebra of your spine that acts as a shock absorber.

Once a herniated disc or bulging disc happens, it typically stays that way, he says. In some cases, the herniation over time will become like a bone spur or calcification, and in very rare instances, it can reabsorb on its own. Unfortunately, you cannot predict if something like that will occur. In either scenario, discomfort may result from the jelly-like substance pushing out of the space between the discs.

Disc Protrusion Types

A disc protrusion is one kind of disc herniation. A protrusion is a disc fragment that pushes out of the disc space while still being attached to the disc. There are many varieties of disc herniations. The first is an extrusion, in which more disc material is ejected. Disc sequestration occurs when a fragment of the disc gets separated from the parent disc. All relevant variations compress and irritate the nerves and generate a wide variety of symptoms — which can also be described as:

  • With or without causing spinal cord or nerve compression, the disc protrusion is pushing into the spinal canal itself in the middle.
  • Foraminal — the disc advancing into the foramen, which is where nerve roots leave the vertebrae and branch off the spinal cord.
  • The most frequent kind, paracentral disc protrusions clog the area between the foramen and the central canal.

Disc Protrusion Risk Factors

The likelihood of getting a disc herniation is roughly only 2-4%. Individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 are most likely to experience lumbar disc herniations — however, it can happen to persons as old as 60-70 years of age and as young as 20. A person is more likely to develop disc protrusion than others if your profession involves heavy lifting, you smoke, and you are a man. Tennis and golf players should be careful because “repetitive twisting” is one of the contributing factors and dangers.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Disc Protrusion

A disc herniation or protrusion can produce back pain that radiates from the buttocks to the legs, which is a symptom of sciatica, which is frequently brought on by disc herniation. Depending on whose nerves the disc protrusion affects, they may also experience numbness, weakness, and discomfort in their low back, arms, or legs. The doctor will thoroughly review your medical history and perform a physical examination to determine whether you have a disc protrusion or herniation. You might also undergo a spine MRI.

Even if your MRI reveals that you have a disc protrusion, you shouldn’t become alarmed. A significant percentage of patients will have bulging discs on a scan, depending on the patient’s age. In fact, the likelihood that an MRI will be abnormal in a person over the age of 50 increases by almost 50% with each passing decade of life. However, it does not always follow that you require medical attention.

Treatment for Disc Protrusion

Your disc protrusion treatment will be determined by your symptoms. The vast majority of disc protrusions improve with physical therapy, adjusting your everyday routines, anti-inflammatory drugs, and epidural injections. Being sure to take things easy and doing light activities like swimming or walking can be most beneficial. Aleve, Advil, and Tylenol can all assist. Voltaren patches and gels may also be beneficial. Your doctor might suggest harsher oral drugs if they don’t work, such as tramadol, gabapentin, and hydrocodone.

Surgery for Disc Protrusion

Most disc protrusion situations improve within six to eight weeks. However, occasionally a surgical operation is required. A micro lumbar discectomy, a type of minimally invasive spine surgery, is the method used to treat disc protrusion. It is an outpatient procedure that involves removing the projecting section of the disc. But if you do get some rest, your disc protrusion may go away on its own. It’s crucial to adhere to your doctor’s recommendations and perform any suggested workouts.

Prevention of Disc Protrusion

You can do a few things to aid in the early prevention of this ailment. Reducing twisting or bending can be beneficial as well as reducing heavy lifting and maintaining a strong core muscle group.

Don’t put off exercising until you feel discomfort. Make it a habit to perform stabilizing and core-strengthening activities before a problem arises. All elements of the body change with aging, including the bones that make up the spine. Discs become less elastic as they dry out. This causes the disc to become weaker and more susceptible to the stages that follow:

  • When the disc’s core, which is contained within the sturdy outer wall of the disc, starts to push into the spinal column, the initial stage following natural weakening may be categorized as disc protrusion. Disc protrusions may cover a circumference of 180 degrees or less.
  • The inner core of the disc may shift farther around the disc’s circumference than usual when it presses into the disc’s outer layer, known as the annulus fibrosus, resulting in a bulge, which is a common symptom of the second stage of disc degradation. Greater than half (more than 180 degrees) of the disc’s circumference is considered to be a bulging disc.
  • The ultimate stage, which occurs in the third stage, may be a herniated disc, which occurs when the outer wall of the disc finally rips, allowing the inner gel-like material to escape from the outer wall’s confinement.

You may wish to seek clarity if terminology like “herniated disc,” “bulging disc,” and “disc protrusion” is mentioned during your diagnosis because various healthcare professionals occasionally use these terms interchangeably. Remember that a disc with an outer wall bulge won’t necessarily develop a herniation, or tear, in the disc wall. Tears and disc bulges frequently have no connection.

Protruding Disc Symptoms

  • Recurring, localized neck and back pain
  • Sciatica
  • A reduction in movement or flexibility
  • Soreness or stiffness
  • Muscle tremor

Treatment for Disc Protrusion

A thorough evaluation of the patient’s range of motion as well as a discussion of the patient’s medical history and the symptoms that brought them in are all necessary for the diagnosis of a disc protrusion. Conservative disc protrusion treatments, which frequently include massage, bed rest, physical therapy, and painkillers, are frequently highly successful. Interventional therapy can aid in cases of crippling pain by providing a measure of respite that enables a continuing program of rehabilitative exercises to restore normal spinal function. Only when conservative treatment for the illness has proven ineffectual after several months or when a patient’s symptoms are severe and incapacitating is spine surgery considered.

 

The Deuk Spine Institute encourages and welcomes you to contact us today regarding any questions or concerns you may have regarding your current situation. 

​​If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the preceding symptoms outlined, it is imperative to get a FREE Consultation and MRI Review with the Deuk Spine Institute. We can help relieve your pain and get you back to living your life without limitations!

 

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