Intervertebral discs are naturally resilient. So, it makes sense that most bulging discs repair themselves over time with proper rest and treatments.
But sometimes, a bulging disc requires medical intervention. To understand why, it helps to know a little bit more about the condition. A bulging disc most often occurs as a natural result of aging. As we get older, our intervertebral discs degenerate and weaken, causing them to lose their structural integrity and develop bulges that intrude on other tissues in the spinal canal.
Oftentimes, a bulging disc will show up on an MRI or CT scan performed for another condition, and the patient is surprised because there is no pain or discomfort associated with the weakened disc. Down the road, another MRI may reveal that the disc has regained its normal shape and returned to its place in between the vertebrae, where it acts as a natural cushion, allowing the spine to move and flex. That bulging disc was able to repair itself.
Even bulging discs that are causing pain and discomfort by pressing on nerve roots in the spinal canal can repair themselves with proper treatment. A bulging disc may repair itself over time when:
- The disc gets the proper nutrients, oxygen, and blood flow to regain its shape and function properly. Medically approved bulging disc exercises can help this natural healing process.
- A person with a bulging disc adopts proper posture or engages in stretching exercises to help “push” a bulging disc back into its rightful place. Bulging disc physical therapy, supervised by a licensed therapist, has been known to achieve this.
- An individual rests and avoids activity that puts strain on the back, giving a disc time to heal.
But, when an intervertebral disc is so severely compromised that its bulge does not respond to these treatments, open-back surgery may be recommended by a doctor. With open-back surgery, a bulging disc does not technically undergo repair. In traditional surgery, an entire damaged disc may be removed entirely. Then, to promote stability in the spine, surrounding vertebrae are fused together with bone grafts and hardware in a process called spinal fusion. This is a complex and lengthy surgery involving an extensive, and sometimes painful, recovery period.
At Laser Spine Institute (LSI), however, we offer minimally invasive endoscopic procedures for bulging disc repair. These procedures include percutaneous endoscopic discectomy, laminotomy, and foraminotomy. For more information on our procedures, contact LSI today and receive a free MRI or CT scan review.