What are my options for disc protrusion treatment?

By Michael Perry, M.D.

If you have been recently diagnosed with a disc protrusion — also called a bulging disc — you are likely reviewing your options for disc protrusion treatment. Maybe you are wondering if surgery is your only option, or if there are additional conservative methods you can try to relieve your chronic pain.

There are many available options for disc protrusion treatment, depending on the location (upper or lower back) and severity (mild to extreme) of the damaged disc and the symptoms you are experiencing. Once your diagnosis of a disc protrusion has been confirmed through medical imagery — typically either an MRI or CT scan — your physician will most likely prescribe a conservative treatment plan to manage the symptoms during the next few months.

Conservative options for disc protrusion treatment

In many instances, a protruded disc does not compress any nearby nerves and, therefore, does not produce symptoms that require treatment. The disc will likely readjust without treatment after a few months. Occasionally, however, the protrusion gives rise to symptoms that require treatment. In this case, your doctor will likely recommend a combination of some of the most common nonsurgical treatments for this condition.

These nonsurgical disc protrusion treatment options can include:

  • Rest
  • Heat or ice packs
  • Avoiding sitting for long periods of time, especially in cases of a lower back, or lumbar, disc protrusion
  • Exercise, physical therapy and stretching exercises
  • Improved posture and diet
  • Painkillers — either prescription or over-the-counter
  • Injections — epidural or steroidal*

In some cases, patients do not respond to conservative treatment and surgery is suggested. If this is your situation, your doctor may recommend spine surgery as the next step in your disc protrusion treatment.

Surgical options for disc protrusion treatment

There are two main types of surgery available to treat a disc protrusion: traditional open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery can often be the clinically appropriate first choice due to the more precise techniques and shorter recovery times.^

At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through a less than 1-inch incision and uses muscle-sparing techniques. This approach to the spine lowers a patient’s risk of excessive scarring that can lead to failed back surgery syndrome. Because we perform our minimally invasive spine surgery as an outpatient procedure, our patients can return to their home or hotel within hours after surgery.^

To learn more about the benefits of our minimally invasive disc protrusion treatment and other spine surgeries we offer, contact us today. We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.