Learning about your bulging disc and the treatments available
Being diagnosed with a bulging disc can seem overwhelming and even a little scary. The best way to combat this anxiety is by learning about your bulging disc and the treatments available to you. Your physician can help guide you through the causes surrounding your bulging disc and the different types of nonsurgical or surgical treatments that may help you find pain relief.
To start, a bulging disc is a disc in the spine that has expanded, or bulged, outward into the spinal canal. This often happens as the spine naturally weakens with age — a process known as deterioration. As the spinal disc weakens, it can no longer withstand the constant pressure from the surrounding vertebrae. The disc’s elastic outer layer begins to stretch under the pressure, which may eventually cause the disc to bulge outward.
Bulging disc symptoms
In some cases, a bulging disc remains unnoticed for a significant amount of time. This is because the painful symptoms often associated with a bulging disc only develop if the disc expands into the spinal canal and presses against a nerve root or spinal cord itself.
When nerve compression occurs, the following bulging disc symptoms may develop:
- Muscle weakness
- Burning sensation
- Limited flexibility
- Difficulty walking
If you notice the development of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your physician to find out if a bulging disc is the cause of your pain. In the event that you are diagnosed with a bulging disc, taking the time to learn about your bulging disc and the treatments available to you will help you make a confident and informed decision about your spine care needs.
Treatments for a bulging disc
Treatments for a bulging disc often begin conservatively, focusing on relieving the pressure on the pinched nerve without using surgical methods. For many patients, conservative bulging disc treatment is an effective method of pain relief.
Common conservative treatments include:
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Weight loss, when necessary
- Lifestyle changes
- Hot/cold compresses
- Limited rest
- Corticosteroid injections
These types of bulging disc treatment often take several months before significant pain relief can be experienced. If after this time you are still enduring the chronic pain of a bulging disc, your physician may recommend spine surgery.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer patients a minimally invasive alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery. Our procedures use a small, less than 1-inch incision to reach the spine and remove a small portion of the bulging disc from pressing against the nerve root. Because the incision is minimal and muscle sparing our patients benefit from a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute to receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures and help you recapture your quality of life.