Can Schmorl’s Nodes Cause Pain?

Although Schmorl’s nodes in the past have been considered clinically insig­ni­fi­cant, clearly they can be an active symptom or cause of pain in some patients.

Schmorl’s Node Controversy

Schmorl’s nodes refer to protrusions of intervertebral disc cartilage through vertebral body endplate and into the adjacent vertebra. Lateral herniations that impinge spinal roots are more commonly expected. But Schmorl’s node herniations are vertical.

These vertebral herniations, named after German pathologist Christian Georg Schmorl (1861–1932)—also called intravertebral disc herniations or Schmorl nodes—are distinguished from bone infection and malignancy. However, comorbidities should not be overlooked. Hypothetically, a patient with a history of Schmorl’s nodes could contract an infection that leads to vertebral osteomyelitis. Disc herniation may also be complicated by unrelated tumor growth.

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