Overview of a bulging spinal disc

A bulging disc in the spine can have a serious effect on your ability to lead a normal life. Symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness that are usually the result of spinal narrowing and nerve compression. This can make simple activities, like sitting at your desk, grocery shopping or even relaxing after a hard day, difficult to impossible.

Whether you have been recently diagnosed with this condition or are researching spine conditions to find a cause to your neck or back pain, educating yourself as a patient is important. While the best person to consult with for your individual situation is your primary care doctor, the following information can help you be more engaged in the treatment process.

Bulging discs and spinal anatomy

A bulging disc in the spine occurs when a weakened disc bulges out of its normal place in the spinal column. These discs sit between the vertebrae in the spine, absorbing the pressure of upper body weight and allowing for basic movement and flexibility. Spinal discs are composed of a tough outer layer and a softer nucleus made of water and proteins.

With age, the discs lose water content and elasticity, making them less able to absorb the stress being placed on them every day and still hold their shape. This can eventually cause the outer rim of the disc to bulge out of its normal perimeter and out into the spinal column. A disc bulge is typically not painful by itself, but it can narrow the nerve pathways in the spine, leading to compression.

Treatment for the life you deserve

The goal of bulging disc treatment is to relieve pain and discomfort and improve range of motion while the overall progress of the condition is monitored. A doctor will usually recommend methods such as:

  • Rest
  • Heating pads and cold compresses
  • Physical therapy
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine
  • Losing weight or quitting smoking, if necessary

Many patients with a bulging disc are able to comfortably resume the activities of daily life without the need for surgery. However, it can become a consideration if symptoms do not improve, or they worsen, after a given period of time.

To learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient procedures have less risk of complication and a shorter recovery period for our patients when compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

To learn more and receive a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.

Browse Related Resources