Bulging disc — where can symptoms appear?

Bulging disc symptoms occur when a spinal disc bulge causes compression of the spinal cord or an exiting nerve root. This is a relatively common condition often caused by the natural aging process but a bulging disc does not always cause symptoms. People who do begin to experience related symptoms, however, can experience pain, numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the neck, back, shoulders, hips as well as the extremities.

For those living with them, bulging disc symptoms can have an extremely disruptive impact on their lives, but the good news is that this condition is often treatable. Patient education is a great first step in the treatment process and learning more about your condition can give you the best chance of finding the lasting relief your deserve.

The location of bulging disc symptoms

Many patients with a bulging disc experience discomfort in areas of the body that may seem unusual and unrelated to their spinal condition. The location of symptoms caused by bulging discs will vary, depending on which region of the spine is affected:

  • Cervical spine. Nerve compression in the cervical (upper) spine can lead to discomfort in the neck, upper back, shoulders or arms.
  • Thoracic spine. A compressed nerve in the thoracic (middle) spine may be interpreted as pain in the middle back, ribs and torso.
  • Lumbar spine. A compressed nerve in the lumbar (lower) spine can cause patients to experience symptoms in the lower back, hips, buttocks and legs.

When patients attempt to self-diagnose and self-treat, relief may be negatively affected because an individual may think his or her arm pain, for instance, is related to an injury in that area of the body. Because the spine and central nervous system are complex and intricate areas of the body, it is critical to leave diagnosis and treatment to a trained medical professional.

Treating bulging disc symptoms

Most physicians begin treatment of a bulging disc with conservative methods. This may include the use of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and periods of rest. If several weeks or months of conservative treatment proves ineffective, a doctor or spine specialist may recommend surgery. Those who have been recommended for an operation should contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive spine surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

To learn more and find out if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants for a no-cost MRI review.*

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