What Is a Disc Extrusion?

Also known as a herniated disc, slipped disc, or a prolapsed disc, a disc extrusion occurs when a spinal disc wall ruptures or tears. Discs are found in between the vertebrae of the spine, acting as a sort of protective cushion. When an extrusion occurs, the break in the disc’s outer wall allows the soft internal cartilage to bulge or leak out, which can lead to pain. Disc extrusions can be challenging to diagnose, as the symptoms can range from mild pain in the extremities to, in the most severe cases, paralysis. A disc extrusion will often cause numbness, tingling, pain, loss of motion, weakened muscles, or slowed reflexes.

Causes of Disc Extrusion

While a disc extrusion can be caused by age, it is often the result of an injury. Our spinal discs are meant to protect our spine’s vertebrae. It usually takes trauma or excessive strain to cause a tear in the outer wall.

Possible causes of disc extrusion:

  • Slips & Falls - Many neck and back injuries are from falls. No matter the cause of your accident—poor lighting, uneven flooring, or defective ladders—our spines tend to take the brunt of the force.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents - Due to collisions’ nature, spine injuries like disc extrusions are prevalent in motor vehicle accidents. Whether you are involved in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident, the impact of the crash may cause trauma to your spine.
  • Industrial Accidents - Workers face a slew of workplace hazards. As a result, they’re at high risk of catastrophic injuries. Disc extrusions can be the result of an accident or lifting something too heavy.
  • Explosions- The force of a blast can throw you a great distance. On top of the many different types of injuries you might face, the impact of landing can cause spinal damage, including a disc extrusion.
  • Offshore Accidents - Deckhands, oil and gas employees, and other offshore workers are faced with dangerous conditions every day. Disc extrusions and other spine injuries are common after oil rig disasters, vessel collisions, and other maritime accidents.

If the negligence or recklessness of another party left you with a disc extrusion, an attorney can help you fight for compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses you have experienced.

Symptoms of Disc Extrusion

A person who has experienced disc extrusion may have the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back, groin, buttock, or thigh area
  • A tingling or numb feeling
  • Weakness in the lower body and lower extremities

Specific symptoms may vary depending on the location and severity of the injury.

Disc Extrusion Treatment

Treatment for disc extrusion will depend on whether the case is minor or severe. In minor cases, an extruded disc may heal on its own. Treatment in these situations would be focused on keeping the patient comfortable and preventing further injury. Pain medication, steroid injections, and nerve blocks may be used with other treatment methods to help a patient with minor disc extrusion. A pain management physician can be a valuable resource for a person with this injury as well. Some disc extrusion patients may find relief through chiropractic care, bed rest, and physical therapy.

In severe cases of disc extrusion, where the disc is severely damaged or progresses to a herniated disc, minimally invasive spine surgery may be the appropriate solution. This surgery can be performed in the neck, or the mid or lower back depending on the location of the affected disc. When patients are experiencing lasting pain, problems with bladder or bowel function, numbness in the lower extremities, and weakness, these may be symptoms of severe disc extrusion requiring more intense treatment.

Disc Protrusion vs. Extrusion

While disc protrusions and disc protrusions are both types of herniations, they are different. When you have a disc protrusion, the soft internal cartilage bulges from the disc, but the disc’s external layer remains intact. With a disc protrusion, that external layer of cartilage is broken, and the internal cartilage is no longer entirely contained by the disc. In some cases, what starts as a disc protrusion may develop into an extrusion.

Is Disc Extrusion Serious?

Disc extrusion is considered a serious injury because it affects the spinal cord. Even in minor cases, a patient should seek medical attention to make sure the condition does not worsen by returning to work or other normal activities too quickly. As always, it is important to follow your doctor's treatment plan and to communicate any problems you may be having so your treatment plan can be adjusted if needed. On average, it will take about four to six weeks for this type of injury to heal.

Does Disc Extrusion Require Surgery?

Whether disc extrusion requires surgery will depend on the severity of the condition. Minor cases can resolve on their own with bed rest, physical therapy, and pain management. Severe cases may require surgery to repair the affected disc. There are more than three million cases of disc extrusion in the United States each year, but most will not require surgery.

Is a Disc Extrusion the Same as a Herniated Disc?

The terms disc extrusion and herniated disc are often used interchangeably. In the name of precision, though, it is essential to note that a disc extrusion is a type of herniated disc.

The three types of herniated discs:

  • Disc protrusion
  • Disc extrusion
  • Disc sequestration

Each type varies in severity, and it’s common for one to develop into another. Protrusion happens when the soft interior of the disc begins to bulge. Extrusion is when the disc wall tears, allowing the interior to seep out of the disc. Sequestration is when that leakage is severed from the rest of the disc and floats outside the disc.

How Long It Takes for a Disc Extrusion to Heal

How long your disc extrusion will take to heal depends on the severity of the extrusion. Minor extrusions can heal on their own within weeks or months with adequate rest. If you’re experiencing pain, your physician may recommend a few different treatments.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDs)
  • Cortisone shot
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Nerve blocks

In severe cases, surgery may be the best option. If you’re experiencing changes in your bowel and bladder function, have developed cauda equina syndrome, or have not found relief from non-surgical treatments, a spinal fusion or minimally invasive discectomy may help. Surgery will remove the damaged portion of your disc.

Arnold & Itkin Can Help You Rebuild Your Life

We often take our bodies for granted until they no longer function as they should. If an accident has caused a disc extrusion or another type of disc injury, you understand that all too well. The chronic pain associated with this injury makes daily activities difficult or even possible to complete. If you need physical therapy or surgery to correct your disc extrusion, you will face steep medical bills. The situation may feel hopeless, but Arnold & Itkin wants you to know that you do not have to face this alone. Our injury attorneys fight for the people whose lives have been destroyed by negligence. Every case we take becomes personal to us—and we do everything in our power to secure the best medical care and the largest recoveries possible for our clients. When you turn to us for your disc extrusion case, we never settle for less than what you deserve. No matter what.

We’ll do whatever it takes to help you, and you won’t have to pay any attorney fees unless we recover for you. Call (888) 493-1629 or fill out our online contact form for your 100% free consultation.

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