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Signs you should consider surgery for your disc protrusion

Disc protrusion is a common spine condition that describes any situation in which one of the discs that separates the vertebrae is no longer in proper alignment. While this situation can be caused by an injury or infection, it’s usually the result of normal degradation due to the aging process. The outer wall, or annulus fibrosus, of a healthy disc is thick, resilient and flexible. During any given day it absorbs countless jolts and shocks as we move about. Over time, however, this constant compression and release can weaken the annulus fibrosus, allowing it to bulge or protrude outward.

A disc protrusion is not painful in and of itself. In fact, at least 20 percent of people under the age of 60 have some form of disc protrusion without even being aware of it. It’s only when a disc’s bulging outer wall compresses a nerve root that symptoms begin to manifest. These can include localized pain in the neck or back, as well as burning, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness anywhere along the affected nerve. In some cases, symptoms can disappear on their own after a few weeks or months, or they may be intermittent. In other instances, the pain may steadily worsen, becoming both chronic and debilitating.

If you have been diagnosed with a disc protrusion, your doctor will likely first recommend conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, stretching and anti-inflammatory drugs to manage your pain. While it’s important to be patient and take enough time to properly evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies, there may come a time when it’s appropriate to weigh more advanced therapies. Some common signs that you should consider disc protrusion surgery include:

  1. Pain lasting longer than 12 weeks
  2. Symptoms that multiply or become more severe
  3. A steady erosion of your quality of life
  4. An inability to sleep through the night due to discomfort
  5. Difficulty lifting one of your feet entirely off the ground
  6. Persistent numbness or tingling in an arm or leg
  7. Bladder or bowel incontinence

The surgeons at USA Spine Care have helped more than 75,000 patients with our minimally invasive outpatient procedures, which are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures.^ Requiring a less that 1-inch incision, our surgeries have helped patients find lasting relief from a variety of spine conditions, including disc protrusions. If you think you might be a candidate for one of our procedures, the first step is to obtain a free MRI review.* Contact a member of our team today to learn how.

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