A bulging disc occurs when a disc of cartilage between the bones of the spine, or vertebrae, protrudes beyond the limits of where it normally exists. Bulging discs commonly affect the lower back, or lumbar spinal region, although they can sometimes occur in other areas of the spine such as the middle back (thoracic region) and neck (cervical region).
Each disc is made up of a strong outer layer of cartilage with a softer, gel-like material constituting the center. These discs act as cushions to allow for flexibility and for maximum shock absorption during the daily rigors your body goes through. Activities such as walking, bending forward, lifting, and even sitting all put stress on your spine, especially if they are improperly executed.
A doctor performing a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) typically can determine the presence of a bulging disc by seeking a small bubble in the cartilage.
How Serious is a Bulging Disc?
A bulging disc is a fairly common condition and in many cases won’t cause any pain. Over time, the discs in your back age and they become drier and weaker. This weakening makes them more susceptible to damage. While age is the primary reason for a bulging disc, other causes can include aggravating a previous back injury, being overweight, and incorrectly lifting heavy items.
Although some people have bulging discs and are free of symptoms, the seriousness of the condition may increase if the bulge exerts pressure on a nerve root in the spinal canal. As a result, the area around the nerve will inflame and produce feelings of pain in the back or neck. Depending on the location of the inflamed nerve, symptoms like pain, numbness, weakness, spasms, and tingling may also manifest in the arms and legs.
If you are suffering from bulging disc pain and have not found relief in chiropractic or other conservative treatments, contact an orthopedic specialist at Laser Spine Institute. Learn more about our advanced minimally invasive procedures that can treat back and neck pain with a shorter recovery period than open back surgery. Contact us today for a complimentary MRI or CT scan review.