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What is the prognosis for a lumbar disc extrusion?

If you have a lumbar disc extrusion (a herniated disc in your lower back), you might be wondering what you can expect in the days, months and even years that lie ahead. You can find some clues on the internet, which can be helpful — just be mindful of your sources. For prognostic information, your best resource is always your physician, who is familiar with your circumstances and can provide individualized advice and guidance.

A lumbar disc extrusion does not always cause discomfort, but when it does, the most common symptoms are lower back and leg pain. Usually, these symptoms are a result of spinal nerve compression. For instance, if your sciatic nerve is compressed by an extruded disc, you may experience sciatica — shooting pains and numbness that travel down one of your legs.

Is it possible to accurately predict the prognosis for a lumbar disc extrusion?

Disc extrusions and other degenerative spine conditions often worsen over time, and their rate of progression can be influenced by a variety of factors, some of which cannot be controlled. Therefore, there’s no sure-fire way to predict your individual prognosis.

At any given time, the nature of your discomfort will be a key factor in your decision on whether or not to seek treatment for your disc extrusion. If your pain is relatively mild and tolerable, you might choose to forego treatment for your damaged disc — either immediately or indefinitely.

If you decide to treat your disc extrusion, a physician can help you find the relief you need. Most likely, your physician will suggest that you start out with one or more conservative therapies, such as:

  • A brief period of rest
  • A regular exercise program
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Over-the-counter pain medications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken as needed

When is surgery appropriate for a lumbar disc extrusion?

In general, if you are in excruciating pain or your discomfort is affecting your quality of life, you may want to seek the opinion of a spine specialist regarding surgical treatment.

The surgeons at USA Spine Care perform minimally invasive spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery to address severe or persistent disc extrusion symptoms.^ Contact us to learn more and request a free MRI review.* We can help you explore your options and determine if you are a candidatefor our minimally invasive outpatient surgery.

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