An extruded disc begins with disc herniation. The disc is a round structure that forms a protective cushion between the vertebrae, or bones of the spinal column. They protect your back through the range of motion and also support and cushion your spinal column as it bears weight.
Although you may have developed a herniated disc as a result of trauma to your back, normally disc herniation occurs through the aging process and through everyday wear and tear. The discs are formed of an annular structure, or ring, that is composed of a rubber-like material, and within that ring, there is a nucleus pulposus that is filled with a gel like substance.
When the cartilage that covers the end of the vertebrae begins to degenerate, the disc loses its nutrient supply. It becomes hardened and weak. When people experience a herniated disc, many times the herniation is very mild and the disc annulus does not rupture. Other times, the annulus fibrosis may rupture, but the leakage is relatively minor and doesn’t impinge on the spinal nerve roots that exit the articulating joints of the spine.
Disc extrusion occurs when the nucleus pulposus leaks from the body of the disc. It will form a specific shape, narrow at the disc and widening at the leading edge.
Sequestration is another form of disc extrusion that occurs when the nucleus pulposus becomes completely detached from the disc itself, and moves within the spinal column. These two conditions are more significant than a small herniation or protrusion.
When you experience a disc extrusion, you will have pressure on your spinal cord and nerve roots. The symptoms will depend upon the location of the extruded disc. This is because the nerve roots at each level of the spine provide a pathway for sensory and motor signals to specific body parts. Neck problems may cause radiating pain, numbness or weakness in your upper extremities or shoulders. Low back disc extrusion may cause the same type of radicular nerve symptoms in your lower extremities. Your pain may increase with normal activities, as they cause increased pressure and continuing inflammation around your nerve roots.
There is a range of treatments for disc extrusion, and your doctor will begin with conservative treatment in most cases. If you are experiencing symptoms of disc extrusion, you should call one of our spinal pain specialists today for assessment and development of an appropriate treatment plan.