How to treat a disc protrusion
A disc protrusion, or bulging disc, can occur as part of the normal age-related breakdown of the spinal discs. With aging, the discs lose water and protein content, making them shrink and become brittle. The pressure caused by the vertebrae above and below the disc causes the gelatinous inner material to push outward and press upon the weakened walls of the fibrous outer layer. As a result, the disc may protrude or bulge, potentially compressing the spinal cord or a nerve root. Symptoms can be experienced at the site of compression, as well as radiating pain, weakness, numbness, muscle spasms and tingling in the extremities.
Nonsurgical disc protrusion treatments range from easy, at-home options to more involved treatments performed in an office. Consult your doctor before starting any treatment plan and expect some degree of trial and error as you work to find the right combination of treatments for your needs.
Treatments for disc protrusion
- Medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) and other types of over-the-counter or prescription medications will combat pain and inflammation at the site of the disc protrusion.
- Rest. Putting strain on your neck or back from sitting, standing, twisting, bending and lifting for prolonged periods can worsen your condition. Short periods of rest can help relieve pressure on your discs and help you deal with pain.
- Physical therapy. In many cases, physical therapy will help people learn proper techniques for stretching and strengthening back muscles. This will increase blood flow and distribute nutrients to the muscles, ligaments and joints.
- Chiropractic therapy. Seeing a chiropractor to adjust spinal alignment can be an effective treatment for neck and back pain.
- Epidural steroid injections. Injection of a corticosteroid directly to or near the site of nerve compression can help to reduce inflammation and pain around the area for periods of time.
When to consider disc protrusion surgery
Conservative treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic therapy or steroidal injections can be very effective, but in some cases, weeks or months can go by without them providing relief. If spine surgery becomes a serious consideration, it is important to fully explore all of the options available to you, including the minimally invasive spine surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute.
To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive outpatient procedures have helped thousands of patients find relief from neck and back pain at our state-of-the-art outpatient centers across the United States.
We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.