What Is the Treatment for an Extruded Disc?

An extruded disc is a condition whereby material leaks from inside the discs that cushion the spinal vertebrae. The soft material can make its way from the center of the disc and seep, or “extrude,” through the outer section of the disc. If the material breaks loose and moves away from the disc it is considered to be a sequestered disc. Some treatments can include massage therapy, ultrasound, medications and epidural steroid injections. For patients who are not responsive to less invasive treatments, surgery can be a last resort.

There are a number of risk factors that can be the cause of an extruded disc. Older males are more at risk, as well as those that are involved in regular and strenuous exercise, especially when it involves bending and twisting the spine. Congenital spinal defects may also be a reason for an extruded disc, as well as physical trauma to the spinal region. Very often people suffering from an extruded disc will experience it in the lumbar region of the spine, which is the lower spinal region.

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Other areas the condition can occur are in the cervical or upper spine, and the thoracic spine which is the middle back region. If the extruded material presses on a nerve, the condition can be painful, as well as cause numbness and weakness. Sometimes the pain may actually lessen once the disc has ruptured. This is because pressure may have been released. The pain may acute or dull and can very often occur on just one side of the body.

After a diagnostic examination which may include a Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, there are a number of treatment options available. Treatments on the conservative side include heat therapy, back and spine manipulation, and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for pain. An epidural steroid injection can also be an effective tool against pain and inflammation.

For patients who are unresponsive to non-invasive treatments, surgery may be the next course of action. Discectomy is a procedure whereby a surgeon accesses the spine via an endoscope or larger incision to remove leaked material and so reduce pressure on the nerves. Fusion is another treatment that may be employed and this involves fusing together vertebrae and is considered a highly invasive surgery. Most people manage to heal from an extruded disc with non-invasive treatments, and they can sometimes take a few weeks to fully recover.

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