Bulging disc symptoms are caused by a weak spot in a disc that swells and puts direct pressure on nerve roots extending from the spinal cord. This pressure can send pain signals throughout the length of the nerve as well as interrupt signals, causing numbness and tingling. Furthermore, pressure on a nerve root can bring about weakness in the limbs that depend on the nerve being impinged.
Bulging disc symptoms can originate in the cervical spine region, the thoracic spine region, or the lumbar spine region:
- Cervical bulging disc – Located in the neck, a cervical bulging disc is defined as being located somewhere in the vertebrae labeled C1-C7. Symptoms of this condition include pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers.
- Thoracic bulging disc – The thoracic area of the spine is located behind the chest area and consists of 12 vertebrae labeled T1-T12. Bulging discs are less frequent in the thoracic region, but when they occur, symptoms include pain in the upper back that may radiate to the chest or stomach. This presentation might lead patients and doctors to speculate that there are problems with the heart, lungs, or gastrointestinal area.
- Lumbar bulging disc – The lumbar region of the spine has 5, or in some people 6, vertebrae labeled L1-L5 (or L6). This region is roughly located from the waist to the hips. Lumbar disc problems are the most common cause of lower back pain (which can be dull, sharp, or burning) that radiates to the buttocks, legs, and feet. Lumbar bulging discs also can cause weakness, numbness, and tingling in the legs, as well as muscle spasms. Symptoms of a lumbar bulging disc may worsen with coughing, sneezing, or bending over. When a lumbar bulging disc exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve, the condition is commonly called sciatica. If you experience loss of bladder or bowel control due to a lumbar bulging disc, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.
Laser Spine Institute has pioneered several minimally invasive and highly effective procedures to treat neck and back pain, including Percutaneous Endoscopic Discectomy for the treatment of bulging and herniated discs. If you have been diagnosed with a bulging or herniated disc and your symptoms are not responding to treatment, please contact us for more information about our outpatient procedures. We also will be glad to provide you with a free MRI or CT scan review.