Intervertebral discs are quite resilient. So, it makes sense that most bulging discs repair themselves over time with adequate rest and treatment.
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 column.
Often, 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 connected to the weakened disc. Down the road, another MRI could 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 and allows 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 recede over time while symptoms are relieved with proper treatment. A bulging disc can repair itself when:
- An individual rests and avoids activity that puts strain on the back, giving a disc time to heal.
- The disc gets the proper nutrients, oxygen and blood flow to regain its shape and function. 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.
But, when an intervertebral disc is so severely compromised that its bulge does not respond to these treatments, open back surgery could be recommended by a physician. With open back surgery, a bulging disc does not technically undergo repair. This complex and lengthy surgery involves an extensive, and sometimes painful, recuperation period.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive procedures for bulging disc repair and symptom relief. These procedures include discectomy, laminotomy and foraminotomy. For more information on our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.