Four common ways to treat a bulging disc
A bulging disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc (the “nucleus pulposus”) becomes displaced and pushes against the outer wall of the disc (the “annulus fibrosis”), causing the disc to “bulge” out of the spinal column. Resulting pressure on the surrounding nerve roots may cause pain, tingling or muscle weakness extending into the extremities (the neck, shoulders, arms and hands if the bulging disc is located in the cervical spine, or the hips, buttocks, legs and feet if the bulging disc is located in the lumbar spine).
Bulging disc treatment
You shouldn’t wait to seek treatment for a bulging disc, as it may eventually rupture, thereby becoming a herniated disc. A bulging disc can also increase your risk of experiencing additional back problems in the future. If you haven’t been able to find any relief using conservative methods (such as resting, applying heat/ice or taking pain-relief medication), you may want to try one of the following common bulging disc treatment options as long as your doctor approves:
- Physical therapy. Many people turn to physical therapy to treat their bulging disc issues. Physical therapy may involve therapeutic exercises, stretching, massage therapy, joint mobilization, traction, heat/cold therapy, hydrotherapy, ultrasound therapy or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. An added benefit is that the exercises prescribed by your physical therapist will strengthen and condition the muscles in your back and abdomen that support your spine, and increase your flexibility and range of movement, thereby lowering the chances that your bulging disc will reappear in the future.
- Spinal decompression therapy. During spinal decompression therapy, you’ll lie on a motorized table, which the doctor will slowly move in order to intermittently stretch and then relax your spine. This movement creates a negative intradiscal pressure that both encourages the bulging material to move back into place, and allows healing nutrients to flow into the affected area.
- Chiropractic treatment. A chiropractor can develop a customized treatment plan designed to address your unique condition, possibly involving spinal adjustments, stretching, therapeutic exercises, ultrasound therapy or traction. These techniques may relieve pressure on the bulging disc and surrounding nerves, thereby allowing the disc to heal itself.
- Acupuncture/acupressure. Some people have found relief from bulging disc pain through acupuncture, an ancient Chinese technique involving placing thin needles into specific areas of the body to promote a healthy energy flow and encourage the release of pain-relieving endorphins. If you’re apprehensive to try acupuncture due to a fear of needles, you may want to try acupressure instead, which involves similar stimulation, but without using needles.
Laser Spine Institute
If you haven’t been able to find relief from your bulging disc pain using the above treatments, you may want to consider Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive bulging disc surgery, a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery^ where we are able to remove the portion of the bulging disc that’s causing you pain. Contact us today to learn more about our outpatient procedures.