Bulging disc — about your diagnosis

If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, it’s understandable to feel a bit nervous. After all, you’ve been dealing with the symptoms of pain and discomfort for several months now, and you are unsure if the treatments your doctor recommended will actually relieve your pain.

While it’s understandable to feel a little anxious about a bulging disc diagnosis, this is a very common condition that affects many adults. In fact, many adults who are diagnosed with a bulging disc can find relief from doctor-recommended, conservative treatments.

How to diagnose a bulging disc

If you are experiencing bulging disc symptoms, visit your physician right away for an examination. Your symptoms might include pain, tingling, muscle weakness, muscle spasms or numbness, all of which can radiate from the damaged disc into the shoulders, arms or hands, as well as the hips, legs and feet. Physical activity — as well as bending, sneezing, coughing and other movements — may worsen these symptoms.

When diagnosing a bulging disc, your physician will likely have you undergo a physical exam and evaluate your symptoms. By learning about the specific location of your symptoms, your physician can typically discern the location of the bulging disc. An MRI or CT scan will likely be ordered to confirm the cause of your pain and symptoms so your doctor can begin recommending a treatment plan.

The role of the discs in the spine

Your spinal cord is surrounded and protected by a column of bones known as vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are discs that cushion and absorb shock in the neck and back. These flexible, circular discs that are located between each set of vertebrae have a tendency to change with age. They often lose water content, become rigid and lose elasticity. This deterioration can occur in patients as young as 20, but is much more common in people who are older.

Eventually, the deterioration of a disc can progress to the point that a bulge develops in the disc’s outer layer. This bulge can place pressure on a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord itself, which can lead to painful symptoms. In the event that a bulging disc continues to worsen and actually ruptures, this condition is called a herniated disc.

Finding treatment options

After a bulging disc diagnosis, your doctor will recommend a series of treatments, often nonsurgical. The most common nonsurgical bulging disc treatments include:

  • Pain medication
  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Stretches and yoga
  • Corticosteroid injections

These conservative treatments often take several months before lasting relief can be experienced.

If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc and conservative, nonsurgical treatments have failed to bring you relief from your symptoms, please contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about your treatment options. Our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgeries to treat bulging discs are alternatives to traditional back surgery.

Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.

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