Bulging disc prevention and treatment guide
A bulging disc is often caused by the natural aging of the spine, which means it is not possible to entirely prevent this condition. However, there are still many simple lifestyle changes you can make that may improve your overall spine health and potentially delay or prevent the onset of bulging discs and other spine conditions.
The spine is a complicated structure of small muscles, joints, connective tissue, nerves, vertebrae and discs that are put under a lot of stress on a daily basis. By learning more about how these factors contribute to a bulging disc, you can better understand the activities and choices that can take pressure off the spine and improve its health.
What is a bulging disc?
A bulging disc occurs when a spinal disc pushes beyond its normal boundaries and protrudes into the spinal column. The spinal discs are made of a tough, elastic outer layer and inner gel-like fluid. While a healthy disc is able to maintain the proper position and height under stress, over time the strength and elasticity in the outer layer may give way due to years of pressure and loss of water content.
When this happens, the weight of the body and the stress of spinal movements can put enough pressure on the disc that it flattens and expands — or bulges. The bulge itself is not necessarily painful. But if the protruding disc comes into contact with spinal nerves, pain signals can be sent to whichever part of the body those nerves affect.
Lifestyle changes for bulging disc prevention
There are a variety of lifestyle changes that may help you prevent a bulging disc, although it is important to remember that diet or exercise plans should be attempted with the close partnership of your doctor, especially if you are dealing with neck or back pain. These lifestyle changes include:
- Exercise. Staying active will strengthen the muscles of your back and keep you flexible, which means your vertebrae and discs will have help in supporting your body weight and all of your body’s movements.
- Manage your weight. A healthy diet combined with exercise can result in weight loss, which means that your spine will have less of a burden to support. Although it can be tempting to become sedentary as we get older, weight gain only causes your spine to work harder. Choose foods high in fiber, low in saturated fat and high in omega fatty acids to help keep your discs healthy and lubricated as well.
- Quit smoking. As you know, the toxins of cigarettes have extremely negative effects on your entire body; what you may not know is that nicotine prevents the discs in your spine from absorbing the nutrients they need to maintain their structural integrity.
Treatments for bulging disc
In cases where a bulging disc does develop, most doctors will recommend continuing to follow the above lifestyle recommendations along with treatment options like over-the-counter pain medication, physical therapy and hot/cold therapy.
If you have exhausted conservative treatment options for a bulging disc and are being recommended for surgery, you should contact our caring team to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures offer patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery with a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication.
To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, ask for your no-cost MRI or CT scan review today.*