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What is Disc Extrusion?
Disc Extrusion is a degenerative spine condition that can lead to nerve compression, pain, discomfort and other debilitating symptoms. Spinal discs act as cushions between vertebrae. A number of underlying conditions–including Degenerative Disc Disease –may cause a disc to weaken and lose its shape. In some cases, the weakened disc will protrude outside of its normal position and begin to migrate away from the main disc body, and intrude on spinal nerves or on the spinal cord, causing significant pain.
What are the symptoms of Disc Extrusion ?
You can develop a disc extrusion at any section in your spine, but they most commonly appear in your lower back or neck. The pain from a disc extrusion can range from mild to severe, and grow worse when you engage in a variety of normal actions such as sneezing, standing, sitting, walking or bending your back. In severe cases, you may experience heaviness in your legs or difficulty walking. Disc extrusion can cause the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of Disc Extrusion include:
- In the lumbar spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet
- In the cervical spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the neck, arms, hands, and sometimes in the head
- In the thoracic spine: pain in the upper back, radiating through the stomach or chest, which patients often confuse for cardiovascular problems
Prior to having a surgical procedure to treat your disc extrusion, conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and steroid injections should be attempted. If these measures do not meaningfully relieve your pain, a North American Spine procedure may be in order.
What are the causes of Disc Extrusion?
Additional common Disc Extrusion causes include:
- Age-related wear and tear, which can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease
- Back or neck strain due to repetitive physical activity, poor posture, imbalances in the musculature, or heavy lifting
- Direct physical injury such as a car accident or fall
- Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents
- Arthritis, which can lead to joint deterioration
What is the treatment like for Disc Extrusion?
Treatment and procedure options for Disc Extrusion range from conservative options like injections to more intensive procedures like spinal fusions.
Conservative treatment options include nerve root blocks and steroid injections. These are designed to provide temporary relief (up to one year), and you may elect to have the procedure done multiple times. Other conservative strategies may include the placement of a spinal cord stimulator–or STIM–which is designed not to correct the underlying degeneration, but to lessen the pain the condition causes.
Decompression may be used for cases in which the structural integrity of the vertebrae or spinal cord is not threatened. These procedures concentrate on freeing entrapped nerves, typically be enlarging the space through which nerves pass. Depending on the demands of the procedure and your unique physiology, a special surgical laser may be used.
Fusion, also called stabilization, procedures may be used when the stability of the spine or vertebrae are compromised or threatened. In some of these cases, more than one harmful condition may exist. While these procedures are minimally invasive and enjoy a high success rate, some patients may be required to stay overnight for observation.
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