Bulging disc causes, symptoms and treatments

A bulging disc can have a number of different causes, including trauma from a sports-related injury or a car accident. The condition’s most common cause, however, is the natural aging process. Over time, parts of the spine begin to break down after age-related changes make them less able to support body weight and allow the spine to bend and twist. The spinal discs, which are located between adjacent vertebrae and act as shock absorbers, are prone to shrinkage and water loss as you grow older. This can lead to a loss of elasticity, which can cause the outer layer of a disc to bulge out from between the surrounding vertebrae.

Symptoms of a bulging disc

If a misshapen disc causes compression of the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root, you may experience symptoms including pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. The exact location of these symptoms will depend on the position of the affected disc in the spinal column:

  • Cervical (upper) spine — nerves send signals to the neck, shoulders, arms and hands
  • Thoracic (middle) spine — nerves here affect the middle back, ribs and abdomen
  • Lumbar (lumbar) spine — nerves travel to the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs and feet

Treating a bulging disc

In a very high number of cases, symptoms from a bulging disc can be relieved through a course of basic conservative treatments. This may include the use of anti-inflammatory or pain medication, appointments with a physical therapist or healthy life choices such as dieting, performing moderate exercise and quitting smoking, among others. Some patients also pursue alternative therapies like restorative yoga, chiropractic manipulation or acupuncture, but be aware that the effectiveness of alternative medicine is the source of debate in the mainstream medical community.

Laser Spine Institute

If you are unable to find relief after several weeks or months of conservative treatment or alternative therapy, you may want to consider minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute. These procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice when compared to traditional open spine procedures, offering a reduced risk of infection and no lengthy recovery for our patients.^

Contact us to schedule your initial consultation and to receive a review of your MRI or CT scan at no cost* to help determine if are a candidate for one of our procedures.

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