What Causes a Disc Extrusion?

What is a Disc Extrusion?

A disc extrusion is commonly referred to as a bulging or ruptured disc. Disc extrusions occur when the outer layer of a spinal disc develops a small tear. This allows the disc’s inner material to seep out of the disc and into the spinal column. 

Disc extrusions can be caused by different factors, but the result is the same. By itself, a tear might not be painful or it may just produce a mild ache. However, when the disc’s fluid presses on a nearby spinal nerve, you may experienceDisc extrusion causes include traumatic injury, overexertion, illness, and obesity. However, the most common cause is natural degeneration. 

The Degenerative Side of Disc Extrusion

As the body ages, years of wear and tear can take a toll on the spine. The spinal disc cartilage that separates nearby vertebrae and absorbs shock is especially prone to weakening over time. The spinal anatomy can be affected by age in the following ways:

  • Dehydration – This may happen when the discs begin to lose water content and collagen. They may become thinner and less elastic, being less able to absorb the pressure of the body’s movements.
  • Bulging Disc– This occurs when a disc begins to bulge outside of its normal perimeter. This occurs when the disc’s core presses on the disc’s outer wall, usually due to pressure from the surrounding vertebrae. 
  • Disc Protrusion– This is a more severe form of bulging disc, where the disc is still intact but has protruded even farther into the spinal canal. A protrusion may involve up to 180 degrees of the disc’s circumference. 
  • Disc Extrusion– A disc wall develops a tear when under a large amount of pressure, and the inner disc material extrudes into the spinal canal, possibly exerting pressure on nearby spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord. 

Conservative Treatment Options

The good news is that a disc extrusion can often heal on its own without surgery. It can also be very beneficial to experiment with different conservative therapy options. The best option is to combine a few different methods. Some common conservative disc extrusion treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Pain medication
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Rest

Surgical Intervention with Dr. Girton

If conservative treatment is ineffective, surgery may be a serious consideration. At BEST Health System, our back and neck specialist, Dr. Girton, is a board-certified surgeon who concentrates in minimally invasive surgeries. 

Our minimally invasive procedures come with a variety of benefits, including smaller incisions and faster recovery times, all on an outpatient basis. For more information regarding disc extrusion surgery with Dr. Girton, contact us today.