A bulging disc in the back can occur anywhere along the spinal column. This condition is caused by weakening of the intervertebral disc wall, which allows a bulge to develop.
In order to understand why a disc may develop a bulge, it is important to understand what intervertebral discs are and what function they perform. Intervertebral discs are the “cushions” situated in between each bony vertebrae of the spinal column. The discs – made of a spongy, flexible, “fibro cartilaginous” material – act like little shock absorbers in between the vertebrae as the back and neck bend, twist, and deal with the bumps and blows of everyday life. As we age, that daily wear and tear impacts our spinal column, including the intervertebral discs, which can degenerate. When the discs degenerate, or weaken, they can lose their shape and develop bulges. Not only can bulges develop due to this degeneration, bulges can also develop when discs are damaged by trauma or injury suffered in a car accident or in a bad fall. Furthermore, a disc can break open and leak its contents into the spinal column, as well. When the outer layer of a disc, called the annulus fibrosus, breaks open and its contents, called the nucleus pulposus, seep out and enter the spinal column, it’s called a herniated disc or ruptured disc.
When a disc bulges or ruptures, it can protrude abnormally into tiny spaces in the spinal canal where nerve roots and the spinal cord are located, placing pressure on sensitive nerve tissue. Because nerve roots and the spinal cord send signals of sensation (including pain) to the rest of the body, the pain, numbness, or tingling felt due to a bulging disc in the back may also be experienced in the torso and limbs.
If your physician determines that a cervical, thoracic, or lumbar bulging disc is causing your pain, he may recommend treatments like rest, exercise, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroid medications. If, after these conservative bulging disc treatments are tried, you still have back pain or pain becomes worse, traditional open-back surgery may be recommended by your physician.
If you are concerned about the potential side effects and risks of traditional disc surgery, you may want to consider the alternative minimally invasive procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our fast recovery times, low risk, and high success rates. We also can provide you with your CT scan or MRI review.