What is the protrusion of the intervertebral disc: causes, symptoms and treatment

If you have wondered what is the protrusion of the intervertebral disc, the first thing that needs to be clarified is not a separate disease, but the stage of such a well-known degenerative-degenerative process, like osteochondrosis. It is the protrusion that is the borderline state that precedes the herniated intervertebral disc, and is potentially reversible unlike the latter.

Reasons for

The reasons for protrusion of the vertebrae are absolutely no different from those in osteochondrosis. These include:

  • age( with each passing year, the risk of degenerative and dystrophic changes in the spine tissues, which are of an involutive nature);
  • lack of sufficient physical exertion( hypodynamia), passive lifestyle;
  • pathological types of posture and curvature of the spine( kyphosis, scoliosis, lordosis);
  • post-traumatic deformities of the spinal column;
  • congenital defects in the development of the musculoskeletal system;
  • inflammatory diseases of the spinal tissues( Bechterew's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, other rheumatological diseases);
  • long-term presence in the same position of the body, for example, sitting behind the computer monitor in the office, standing behind the counter in the store( constant static spinal overstrain);
  • heavy physical work;
  • professional sports;
  • flat feet, deforming osteoarthritis of the hip, knee joint( a pathological redistribution of the load on the vertebral column occurs);
  • overweight;
  • diseases and pathological conditions that occur with a metabolic disorder and hormonal changes;
  • unhealthy lifestyle - smoking, drinking alcohol and other psychoactive substances;
  • wrong sleeping accessories;
  • genetic predisposition.
The girl at the computer with a sick back
Long stay in one work posture is the number one cause of protrusion of intervertebral discs

Perhaps, these are not all factors that can lead to protrusion of the vertebrae. But of all the above listed, the main significance is given to hypodynamia, unhealthy lifestyles and seated work.

Having eliminated these risk factors, you will almost 90% save yourself from such problems as protrusion and its consequences.

What is the essence of the disease?

As already mentioned, protrusion is one of the stages of a general degenerative change in the tissues of the spine called osteochondrosis.

With long-term adverse effects of risk factors, pathological changes occur within the intervertebral discs. These discs consist of two parts:

  1. The bullet core ( inner part) is a gel-like substance that occupies the central part of the disk and consists of collagen fibers, proteoglycans( molecules that hold water).Thanks to the latter, the amount of water in the core of the disk is very high, which provides it with amortization properties.
  2. Fibrous ring ( outer skin of the disc) - consists mainly of strong collagen fibers. Its main task is to keep the pulpous nucleus in place and maintain the necessary shape of intervertebral discs.

The intervertebral disc does not have its own blood vessels, but is fed by the diffusion of nutrients from the surrounding vertebral tissues. Violation of this process is at the heart of the development of osteochondrosis and protrusion.

When the metabolism inside the disk is disturbed, it shrinks, the disc height decreases, the fibrous capsule lends itself to the process of defibration, which is why it loses its strength. This is the first stage of osteochondrosis.

Stages of development of osteochondrosis
Degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc

If the pathological factors have not stopped their negative effect, then the process passes to the second stage - the formation of a protrusion of the vertebra. Because of the lowering of the height of the intervertebral disc, the bodies of adjacent vertebrae converge, they exert great pressure on the damaged disc, which results in "squeezing" of its contents beyond the spinal column. In this case, the fibrous ring retains its integrity. This protrusion of the fibrous ring with the nucleus of the disc is called protrusion. In parallel, accompanying degenerative processes in the spine - spondylolisthesis, spondylarthrosis, spondylosis, subluxations of the vertebrae, curvature of the spine.

The final stage of the degenerative change of the vertebral discs is the rupture of the fibrous ring and the formation of a disc herniation( the pulpous nucleus is squeezed out beyond the intervertebral disc).In some cases, the hernia is sequestered - the separation of part of the nucleus, which leads to complete destruction of the disc and complete loss of its function.

It should be noted that different disks lend themselves to the pathological process in different ways. First of all, those disks that suffer most of all suffer and are prone to protrusion. As a rule, these are disks of cervical vertebrae and lumbar. The thoracic department of the spine suffers the least.

Types of

protrusions Disc protrusions are classified according to the direction of protrusion relative to the perimeter of the disc.


Circular protrusion is a uniform outward extension of the intervertebral disc. Such protrusions usually develop slowly, are prone to long and chronic course, indicate a pronounced degenerative changes within the disc. Lead to a pronounced loss of disc height and severe complications. Without special treatment, they cause persistent disability and disability.

Local protrusion

This is a limited protrusion of the disk in either direction. Depending on the direction of the protrusion,

  • is allocated to the dorsal protrusions of the discs - protrusion occurs towards the spinal canal, the holes where the spinal nerve roots leave the canal, thus this is the most unfavorable version of protrusions due to the high risk of compression of the spinal cord roots and neurological manifestationssymptomatology;
  • lateral protrusions of the discs - protrusion into the right or left side of the spine, such protrusions rarely cause neurologic complications, occur relatively favorably and asymptomatically;
  • ventral protrusions of the discs - protrusion in the front, develop very rarely and do not represent a particular clinical interest, because they are asymptomatic and do not contribute to complications.
Types of intervertebral protrusion
Classification of the intervertebral disc protrusions

Thus, the most dangerous circular and dorsal protrusion of intervertebral discs, which requires their active treatment.

Symptoms of the

Symptoms of protrusion of the vertebra vary in a wide range and depend on the location of the protrusion( spine department), its type, compression of the nerve roots, concomitant degenerative changes in the tissues of the spine.

Cervical spine

The cervical segment of the spine is the most mobile, therefore protrusions are often found here. The pathology can be manifested by the following symptoms:

  • chronic or acute pain in the neck with spreading to the shoulder joint and along the arm;
  • feeling of numbness in the neck and upper limbs;
  • decreased muscle strength of the hands;
  • stiffness and limitation of head movements;
  • persistent headaches with localization in the occiput;
  • increased blood pressure;
  • dizziness.

The protrusion of the cervical vertebrae is a very dangerous condition, since, in addition to squeezing the roots of the spinal cord, compression of the vertebral artery occurs in the canal inside the cervical vertebrae and provides blood to the posterior third of the brain. In rare cases, it can even lead to a stroke.

Pain in the neck
Neck and neck pain testifies to cervical spine injury

Symptoms of thoracic disc protrusion

The thoracic protrusion is very rare because of the anatomical and physiological features of this segment of the spinal column( the vertebrae are practically immovable, which significantly reduces the prerequisites for pathological effects on them).But, nevertheless, protrusions of the thoracic region still occur and can manifest themselves with the following symptoms:

  • chronic or acute pain in the chest, along the intercostal spaces, between the scapula;
  • feeling of stiffness in the chest;
  • development of dyspnea and pain with deep inspiration;
  • pain and discomfort in the heart and abdominal organs.

Such symptoms of pseudoporteal internal organs cause a person to treat non-existent diseases of the heart, liver, lungs and other organs for a long time and without success, but in fact the cause of painful sensations lies in the sick spine.

Symptoms of protrusion of the lumbar spine

We recommend reading: herniation of the intervertebral disc Symptoms of the lumbar intervertebral disc herniation

In this department, protrusion is most often due to the large static and dynamic loads on this segment of the spinal column. Symptoms include:

  • acute and chronic back pain, which can spread along the leg;
  • development of attacks of lumbosacral radiculitis;
  • stiffness and limitation of amplitude of movements in the lower back;
  • disruption of the pelvic organs;
  • numbness, violation of the sensitivity of the legs;
  • decrease in the muscular strength of the lower limbs, development of paresis and paralysis;
  • erectile dysfunction in men, infertility and pelvic pain in women.

It is the defeat of the lumbar region that often causes disability and the loss of a person's ability to work.

Such diagnostic methods as X-ray of the affected spine, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography will help to recognize the protrusion of the disc.

Principles of treatment

Successful treatment with protrusion of the disc will only in the case of its duration and complexity. When the process is exacerbated( acute pain syndrome), medication is prescribed to eliminate inflammation, pain, edema of the nerve roots, pathological spasm of paravertebral muscles, and the establishment of microcirculation and metabolism in the tissues of the intervertebral discs.

It is necessary to remember that it is impossible to cure protrusion by conservative methods, but it is possible to stop its progression and prevent exacerbations of pathology.

To do this, apply such conservative treatment methods:

  • massage;
  • manual and osteopathic correction of the spine;
  • spinal column traction;
  • medical gymnastics;
  • physiotherapy procedures;
  • acupuncture;
  • sanatorium treatment.
Extension of the spine
Extension of the spine is an effective method for the treatment of disc protrusion, especially in the cervical part of the

. Only in extreme cases do they resort to a surgical procedure. Despite modern equipment and minimally invasive techniques of operations on the spine, this is always a big risk. Because of this radical treatment resorted to strict indications, but before that you need to try all methods of conservative therapy.

Nerve root compression by bulging disc
  • Reasons for
  • The essence of the disease
  • Types
  • Symptoms
  • Principles of treatment