What are the warning signs of a bulging disc?

A bulging disc is described as a disc in the spine that has pushed out of the disc space, to a certain degree, due to constant pressure from the surrounding vertebrae. This condition is commonly caused by the natural aging process and the weakening of the spine, which can lead to the discs gradually breaking down.

Because a bulging disc often develops over time, there may be warning signs that can help you recognize when this condition is present. By identifying the warning signs of a bulging disc, you may be able to find an effective treatment and avoid the debilitating pain that sometimes develops when a bulging disc is left untreated. Read on to learn about what specific signs to look out for if you believe you have a bulging disc.

What causes bulging disc warning signs?

The spinal cord sits behind the disc and when the discs bulge into this area, they can push on the nerves which cause you to become symptomatic. The initial pressure on the nerve may result in slight symptoms of pain and discomfort. However, if left untreated over time, the disc damage could continue to worsen, causing the pressure on the nerve to increase.

The initial warning signs triggered by a bulging disc can include:

  • Pain that travels to the extremities
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness

These symptoms may begin at the site of the nerve compression, usually in the lower back (lumbar) or neck (cervical) regions of the spine. However, they can also spread along the nerve pathway and into the closest extremity. For example, a bulging disc in the lower back may cause symptoms in the lower back, buttocks, leg and foot.

Diagnosing a bulging disc based on your warning signs

If you begin to experience bulging disc warning signs, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to officially diagnose the cause of your pain. Once your doctor diagnoses your condition, he or she may recommend a series of conservative treatments for pain relief, which can improve your symptoms within a short period of time and allow the body to shrink or heal on its own. However, while many patients find effective relief from conservative methods, some patients require spine surgery to treat a bulging disc if their symptoms don’t improve after several months or get even worse.

If spine surgery becomes necessary for your chronic bulging disc symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. Our state-of-the-art facility offers a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^ The team of dedicated surgeons at Laser Spine Institute is able to perform muscle-sparing procedures using a less than 1-inch incision, in order to access the spinal canal and remove the bulging portion of the disc that is compressing the nerve.

Since 2005, Laser Spine Institute has been able to help more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Let our team help you on your journey to wellness by determining if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive spine surgeries through a no-cost MRI review.*

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