Chronic neck and back pain affects millions of people each year. Causes can range from minor muscle strains to catastrophic injuries to age-related degeneration. Conditions that affect the spinal discs are a frequent source of pain due to the tremendous stress we place on them, combined with their proximity to spinal nerves.
While many people are likely to have heard of bulging or herniated discs, disc extrusion is another disc condition that can develop. If you have been diagnosed with a disc extrusion as a source of symptoms ranging from neck pain to back pain to leg pain, we want to help you better understand this condition and your treatment options.
Although chronic symptoms caused by disc extrusion can interfere with your productivity and ability to enjoy basic activities, it is possible to find relief through effective therapies. Please read over the following easy-to-understand overview and feel free to get in touch if you have questions or would like to learn more.
What Is A Disc Extrusion
A disc extrusion is actually a form of a herniated disc. Disc herniation occurs when the soft inner material of a spinal disc, or nucleus pulposus, begins to push through a weak point or tear in the tough outer layer, or annulus fibrosis. The term disc extrusion is more commonly used by radiologists and less so by diagnosing physicians and patients but specifically refers to a disc herniation where the top of the herniated nucleus pulposus is wider than the neck.
A disc extrusion does not necessarily cause symptoms on its own, with pain typically being the result of compression or irritation of surrounding spinal nerves. If this occurs, common symptoms include:
- A localized pain in the neck or back, depending on the location of the disc extrusion
- Radiating pain, including leg pain
- Tingling and numbness
- Muscle weakness and muscle spasms
Upon diagnosis of disc herniation or disc extrusion as the source of symptoms, the first step in treatment is usually a course of conservative or nonsurgical therapies.
Conservative Disc Extrusion Treatment Options
A large number of people diagnosed with disc extrusion find meaningful relief through conservative treatments combined with a healthy lifestyle. The most effective options vary from patient to patient, which is why it’s important to find a provider who can deliver personalized care. Common treatments include:
- Periods of rest to take pressure off of the affected disc
- Use of over the counter medication to relieve localized pain or leg pain
- Alternating hot and cold compression therapy relaxes soft tissue and reduces inflammation
- Physical therapy to strengthen supporting muscles and improve range of motion
- Corticosteroid injections significantly reduce pain and inflammation for an intermediate period
- Posture improvement to evenly distribute pressure on the spine
- Weight management if necessary to relieve pressure on the disc
- Nutritional counseling and adopting a nutrient-rich anti-inflammatory diet
Patients should take a proactive approach and take the time to develop an effective conservative treatment plan. It can take some trial and error to find the right combination of therapies. Surgery should be seen as a last resort treatment, but if weeks or months go by without experiencing significant results, it can represent the best chance of achieving long-term pain relief.
Surgical Approaches To Disc Extrusion Treatment
A common surgical procedure to treat disc extrusion is a discectomy. In a discectomy, the surgeon will access the spine through an incision to remove the extruded nucleus pulposus material that is affecting spinal nerves. The surgeon will then close the incision and the patient will begin the recovery process.
Traditional approaches to discectomy required a large incision, significant disruption of soft tissue, and a long, potentially difficult, recovery period. The overnight hospitalization could increase the risk of exposure to infection as well as other complications.
Today, discectomy for disc extrusion can be performed on an outpatient basis using minimally invasive techniques. By combining microsurgical technology and direct visualization equipment, surgeons can access the spine with a much smaller incision and less soft tissue disruption. This allows for an outpatient procedure at an ambulatory surgery, where patients can be up and walking within hours of undergoing the procedure.
Contact BEST Health System Today
Throughout your streamlined process, from first contact to evaluation and treatment and throughout your recovery, the patient experience at BEST Health System is designed with you in mind. Our dedicated and compassionate staff is here to make sure you feel comfortable with the care you receive.
Every patient is different and deserves personalized attention and individualized treatment – that’s why we have seamless care throughout your journey with us. We believe in giving the same level of treatment that we would give to a family member. Disc extrusion therapy or conservative treatments can help you reach your health goal and get you back to an active lifestyle.
A minimally invasive discectomy, for instance, can be performed in one of our modern ambulatory surgery centers on an outpatient basis. This helps to reduce additional hospital-associated costs and lower recovery time. In fact, patients are up and walking just hours after surgery.
One concern patients often have is the cost of spine surgery. We work with most insurance providers and offer a range of payment options so care is affordable for as many people as possible.
The highly skilled surgeons at BEST Health System have extensive experience treating chronic spine conditions, including disc herniation and extrusion. Safety and patient care are our top priorities.
Reach out to BEST Health System to find out if you can find treatment options that will allow you to lead an active lifestyle and spend time with the people you love. We want to help you join the patients we’ve already helped who have found lasting relief and a return to a better quality of life.