When is Disc Protrusion Surgery Necessary?

What is 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 make 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 pushes out of its normal place. 

In many cases of disc protrusion, surgery isn’t necessary. But, because surgery is advisable in certain cases, you may be wondering if you should consider having an operation to address your damaged disc. You should certainly consult with your own physician about this issue because they can provide you with the personalized information required to help you make an informed medical decision.

In some cases, protruding discs don’t cause symptoms. Imaging tests may show the spinal abnormality, but unless it is causing pain and discomfort, treatment, including surgery, is typically unnecessary.

Can Conservative Therapies Improve the Situation?

In the case that your damaged disc is causing disruptive symptoms, your physician will likely advise you to try some combination of conservative treatments to manage them. Also known as nonsurgical approaches, these types of therapies can include:

  • Applying heat/cold to the affected area
  • Taking pain and/or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching and exercising regularly
  • Completing at least a few weeks of physical therapy and associated at-home exercises
  • Participating in yoga classes
  • Investigating alternative and complementary therapies like acupuncture

Although it can take some trial and error to find a combination that is effective for you, patience is important. As is keeping track of which treatment plans you have tried and their results.

Surgery with BEST Health System

Surgery is typically considered a last resort option because it presents inherent risks. For that reason, many people who have spinal disc protrusion only see surgery as an option if they have tried numerous conservative treatment approaches without seeing an improvement in moderate to severe symptoms for weeks or months.
However, if surgery does become an option, it is important to consider all your options. Thanks to modern medical technology, traditional open back surgery is no longer your only option. At BEST Health System, we offer minimally invasive surgical alternatives. This means our surgeons use a less-than-one-inch incision to access the target location. This allows for a quicker recovery and less scarring, all on an outpatient basis. Contact BEST to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures.