Bulging disc symptoms can vary widely from person to person. The main factors determining the symptoms of a bulging disc are the location of the disc and the severity of the damage. The location of the pain depends on which disc is weakened, while the level of pain depends on how much of the disc is pressing on the nerve.
The symptoms of a bulging disc, also sometimes called a ruptured disc, begin when the bulge puts pressure on nerve roots, which are initial segments of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord. Bulging disc symptoms will begin at the point of pressure and radiate to where the affected nerve root travels. For example:
- A bulging disc in the neck can cause pain, tingling, and numbness that branch out to the shoulders, arms, chest, hands, and fingers.
- In the thoracic area of the spine, a bulging disc may cause pain to radiate anywhere from the chest to the upper thigh.
- When located in the lumbar spine, a bulging disc can cause pain to travel from the lower back to the buttocks, legs, and feet. A bulging disc located in the lower back also might lead to the development of sciatica.
Bulging disc symptoms are usually worse when you’re active and gets better when you’re resting. Bending forward, driving, coughing, sneezing, and sitting may make the pain worse. The pain gets worse when you make these movements because they put more pressure on the nerve.
After your doctor has confirmed that your symptoms are being caused by a bulging disc, he or she will recommend conservative treatments like heat application, exercise, physical therapy, medications, and injections. Alternative treatments may include chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture. In most cases, bulging disc patients experience relief after trying one or more of these treatments.
If your bulging disc symptoms become severe and incapacitating, your doctor may talk to you about surgical options. Some traditional surgeries for bulging disc require bone removal, bone fusion, and the use of metal plates and screws.
Before going through open back surgery for a bulging disc, you should explore other alternatives such as the gentle, minimally invasive outpatient procedures offered by Laser Spine Institute. LSI’s treatment of bulging discs is accomplished through a procedure called percutaneous endoscopic discectomy, a revolutionary technique that our surgeons have performed thousands of times, allowing people just like you to get on with life. Please contact LSI today to learn more and to receive a free MRI or CT scan review.