What is an Extruded Disc?
Before providing you information on an extruded disc, it might be of assistance to most if we provide basic definitions for some the terminology we will use. So, we shall start by describing and defining the basic anatomy of the spine and spinal disc.
Spine: The spine, also called the spinal column or the vertebral column is a stack of 26 independent bones that are separated by 24 spinal discs. The seven bones in the neck, twelve bones in the upper to mid back, and five in the lower back form the 25 vertebras. The last one is the tailbone; formed by the sacrum and coccyx.
Spinal Discs: The spinal disc is the connector of spinal bones, shock absorbers, and spacers between spinal bones the enable motion and help bear the weight of the body. The spinal disc has three main components:
- Annular Ligament, Annulus Fibrosus or Annular Fibers
- Nucleolus Pulposus or Nucleolus
- Vertebral End-Pates
Definitions of Descriptive Terms Used in Spinal Disc Disorders
- Annular Ligament or Annular Fibers: The Annular Ligament better known as the Annulus Fibrosus are the circular outer fibers of the spinal disc that corrals and maintain the nucleus in the center. They are also called the annular ligament as they attach spinal bones to one another. On the average, there are about 25 concentric rings of these ligaments crisscrossing each other at about a 120-degree angle; giving the annular ligament its strength and resilience.
- Nucleolus Pulposus: The Nucleus as the name applies is the innermost component of the spinal disc. It is much softer than the annular ligament, resembling a jelly-like material. The Nucleolus pulposus is the main part of the spinal disc. It bears the weight and provides smooth spinal movements when in the proper position.
- Vertebral End-Pates: The end plates are the interface between the hard boney surfaces of the spinal bones and spinal discs. The End-pate serves as a point of attachment between vertebrae and disc, but more importantly as nutrients supplier from the vertebrae to the avascular spinal discs.
What is an Extruded Spinal Disc?
An extruded disc is a severe form of a Herniated Disc (slipped disc or slip-disc), which involves a cephalic or caudal extension of the disc. In other words, the extruded nucleus pulposus extends above or below the disc level as a result of tears in the annular fiber. A degenerated disc is always present in a herniated disc, protruded disc, prolapsed disc, and extruded disc. However, in an extruded disc, there will also tear in the annular fibers. The annular fibers are the support structures of a disc that maintain the nucleus pulposus in the center. Annular tears result from degenerative changes, predisposing them to tears. Once the annular ligament is torn, the nucleus shifts from the center to the periphery.
A spinal disc with torn annular fibers is weaker and more likely to fail when extra pressure. Prolonged sitting, repeated bending or twisting at the waist or even sneezing or coughing can cause the nucleus pulpous to slip, herniate or extrude backward. When a disc fails, the center gel-like nucleus pulposus will extrude backward, and the annular fibers will not be able to contain the extruded disc materials.
What are the Symptoms of a Disc Extrusion?
The symptoms of disc extrusion depend on site of involvement. In other words, of the disc extrusion is in the neck you may experience neck pain, upper back pain, pain at the shoulder blades, shoulder pain, arm pain and even wrist or hand pain. Also, patients with an extruded disc in their neck can expect some degree of numbness, burning, and tingling in the upper back, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. Furthermore, some may even experience weakness in shoulder, arm, wrist, and hands. Those diagnosed with an extruded disc in the lower back or the lumbar spine can expect similar symptoms to sciatica. In other words, back pain, pain in buttocks, hip pain, thigh pain, leg pain and ankle pain. Some will complain of cramp-like sensations in one or both lower extremities. Similar to
Spinal disc damage is a progressive disorder. In other words, it is a condition that progressively worsens over time. For some, it could take months or years, while others have progressed to sinister forms of disc damage in a matter of days. In short, care must be taken to prevent progression. We have provided some of the don’ts for you below:
- Twisting of the neck or back must be avoided, as it will further damage annular fibers
- Bending of the neck and back should also be avoided as this may increase the intradiscal pressure and worsen the disc extrusion.
- Avoid tilting back, as backward bending the neck or lower back cause impingement of the discal fibers as well as the exiting spinal nerves.
- Avoid prolonged sitting
- Do not lift or carry items that weight more than 2kgs.
Should You Opt for Spine Surgery?
Spine surgery should always be the last option. Researchers agree that spine surgery brings about mechanical changes altering the spine. Some of the biomechanical changes will impact healthier segments. Far too many cases were published where spine surgery at an extruded disc segment led to spinal disc issues in otherwise healthy segments above or below surgical site. Nucleoplasty and spinal fusions have the worse outlooks. A recently published medical research reported spinal fusion failure rate at 75%. In separate research, the effectiveness of nucleoplasty was compared to a sham or fake nucleoplasty. The researchers reported the fake surgery to be as good as the real one. In short, if you have been diagnosed with an extruded disc, seek our clinical teams. Your chances of long-term improvement are much higher with our non-surgical methods of spine care.
Patients presenting with an extruded spinal disc often have co-condition. For a spinal disc to bulge, herniate, extrude or fragment, other structures also suffer. Aside from muscular issues (muscle spasms), spinal disc degenerative changes and changes in spinal joints are common occurrences in patients with slipped discs. Spinal joint degenerative changes are termed as facet hypertrophy. Facet hypertrophy is descriptive of arthritic and degenerative changes (bone spurs) that are all too common in extruded disc patients.
Another condition commonly seen with spinal disc extrusion is canal stenosis. The most common cause of canal stenosis is hypertrophy of ligamentum flavum. In almost every case of spinal disc extrusion, there are varying degrees of thickening or hypertrophy of ligamentum flavum. These co-conditions are the primary reason why spine surgery fails. In short, spinal disc herniations and extrusion are too complex to solve by cutting of tissues or bones.
What is the best Non-Surgical Treatment option for a Disc Extrusion?
We hope the information presented here on the extruded disc was helpful. We encourage you to call one of our centers and learn about your non-surgical options. Hospitals and surgeons recommend spine surgery for the extruded disc. Some may even tell patients that disc damage cannot be reversed or repaired unless they opt for spine surgery. Well, we have proven them wrong through pre- and post-treatment MRI on several occasions.
To date, the best means of correcting an extruded disc is through targeted methods rendered through our clinical teams. As mentioned, spinal disc damage presents with co-conditions that also require treatments. The best non-surgical treatment for a slipped disc or extruded spinal discs is NSD Therapy®. NSD Therapy® is a multiprong non-surgical method of spinal decompression that targets spine joints, spinal discs, spinal muscles and ligaments collectively in a comprehensive manner. If you have an extruded disc, the chances of having issues with other spinal segments are near 100%. While spine surgery concentrates on a one, two or three segments, NSD Therapy® focuses on the entire region. In short, it is your best hope for long-term relief.
To conclude, we can fix a slipped disc, even an extruded one. We have the skills, knowledge and breakthrough technology specific to the spine. The to-go-to method of non-invasive treatment for spinal disc damage such as an extruded disc is NSD Therapy®.