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Mild disc protrusion

A mild disc protrusion describes a damaged disc in the spine that is very slightly protruding out of its normal alignment in the spine and into the spinal canal.

Often, disc protrusion occurs as a result of spinal compression due to years of weight gain and disc dehydration. These components cause a disc to become compressed between two vertebrae, resulting in the disc flattening and protruding into the spinal canal. The term “mild disc protrusion” implies a focal protrusion, meaning less than 90 degrees of the total disc circumference is protruding beyond its normal boundaries. A broad disc protrusion, on the other hand, involves between 90 and 180 degrees of circumference protruding outside normal boundaries.

Many people have mild disc protrusions and are unaware of any pain or symptoms because the protruded disc is not touching a nerve root. These discs often heal naturally over time without ever showing symptoms. However, if a protruded disc does touch a nearby nerve root, pain and symptoms often occur.

Treatment for mild disc protrusion

Many patients suffering from mild disc protrusion can find effective pain relief through conservative treatment. The most common forms of conservative treatment for a damaged disc include:

  • Low-impact exercise — Maintaining mobility and flexibility is crucial. Swimming, walking, gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises can help the body stay agile.
  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy that focuses on the spine can help relieve tension and increase circulation in the affected area. A therapist also may train patients on proper posture and lifting techniques.
  • Medication — Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications can help to reduce pain so that physical therapy is more bearable.
  • Steroid injections — An injection of cortisone, an anti-inflammatory, may temporarily help pain that results from the nerve compression accompanying a mild disc protrusion.

These treatments can often be combined to expedite pain relief. You should always consult your physician before starting or changing a treatment plan.

If you have tried several types of conservative treatment and have found no lasting pain relief, it may be time to research spine surgery. At USA Spine Care, we have several minimally invasive decompression procedures that focus on relieving pressure on the nerve root without altering the stability of the spine.

Our minimally invasive discectomy procedure is performed through a small, 1-inch incision and involves the surgeon removing a small portion of the protruded disc to decompress the pinched nerve root. Unlike traditional open back surgery, our small incision does not cut or detach any of the muscles surrounding the spine. For this reason, our procedure are safer and effective than traditional open back surgery^, and our patients experience a shorter recovery time^ than patients who undergo traditional surgery.

If you are suffering from chronic back pain, it’s time for you to take the next step toward pain relief by sending our spine care experts your MRI or CT scan to review and recommend a treatment option. Contact USA Spine Care for more information today.

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