What bulging disc treatment option is best for you?

A bulging disc is a condition that occurs with the natural degeneration of the spine. This condition describes a disc pushing out of its space and into the spinal canal, which causes it to press against the nerves. While sometimes a mild bulging disc does not result in any pain or symptoms, it can still occur if a bulging disc compresses a nearby nerve root in the spinal canal.

Often, relief from bulging disc symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, can be found with nonsurgical therapies. Conservative treatment aims to stretch the spine to reduce pressure on the nerve root and create space in the spine for the bulging disc to heal. Some common forms of conservative treatment for a bulging disc include massage therapy, physical therapy, hot or cold compresses, chiropractic work and over-the-counter or prescription pain medication.

If you have suffered from symptoms caused by bulging disc pain and these conservative treatments have not provided any lasting pain relief after several months, you should consult your doctor about alternative treatment options. There are several other types of treatment listed in the following article that you can try before resorting to spine surgery to treat your bulging disc.

Alternative treatments for a bulging disc

There are a variety of medical subspecialties devoted to finding pain relief from common spine conditions, such as a bulging disc. Pain management specialists, including physiatrists, psychiatrists, physical therapists and anesthesiologists, could prescribe any of the following therapies for bulging disc pain relief:

  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) — uses a handheld electric device to deliver impulses that provide pain relief by blocking or scrambling pain signals that travel to the brain
  • Pain patches — release local anesthetics, such as lidocaine, and can be worn for up to 12 hours each day to relieve the pain of a bulging disc
  • Epidural steroid injections — offer targeted relief from inflammation in the spinal column and typically last for several months when a slow-release steroid is used
  • Ultrasound therapy — is a type of heat vibration therapy that uses sound waves to reduce pain, improve circulation and trigger the healing process

If both conservative treatments and specialized pain management techniques fail to help you experience lasting pain relief, your physician could see if you are a candidate for bulging disc surgery.

Minimally invasive treatment options for a bulging disc

Traditionally, surgery for your bulging disc has been performed as a highly invasive procedure in which the muscles of the back are often cut. Open back surgery typically involves two to five days of hospitalization, an increased risk of infection of up to 19 percent and postoperative complication rates of 16.4 percent. However, patients can choose a safer and effective approach to spine surgery^ through the outpatient procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute.

At Laser Spine Institute, our precise, less than 1-inch incision allows our surgeons to remove either a portion of the bulging disc (minimally invasive discectomy) or the entire disc (minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization) to relieve pressure on the impacted nerve root. If the entire disc is removed, our surgeons will insert an artificial disc to maintain natural movement and stability of the spine, as opposed to the metal cages and rods used in a traditional open back fusion. These procedures provide our patients no lengthy recovery, as well as a 0.49 percent infection rate and a 3 percent complication rate^ when compared to traditional open spine surgeries

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information on the proven advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery compared to traditional open back surgery. We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your chronic neck or back pain.

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