Bulging disc treatment

A bulging disc occurs when a disc in the spine becomes compressed between two vertebrae and is squeezed out beyond its normal parameter within the spinal cord. A bulging disc is often classified as a degenerative spine condition because it often develops slowly as time and age wear down the spine. Some patients with a mild bulging disc may not even be aware of their condition until the bulging disc worsens, compressing a nerve root in the spinal canal and causing severe and chronic pain.

If you are already experiencing the symptoms of a bulging disc, such as chronic and radiating pain in the neck and head, as well as limited movement in the neck, and you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc by your physician, you may want to begin researching the treatment options available to you. While many cases a degenerative spine conditions like bulging discs respond well to physical therapy and other conservative methods of treatment, some more severe instances of bulging disc may require surgical treatment.

Conservative treatment for a bulging disc

Treatment for a bulging disc in the neck almost always begins with a conservative, non-surgical course of action. Typically, the symptoms associated with a bulging disc will begin to lessen over time. You should stay with a conservative treatment for about 2 – 3 months before determining if this treatment is effectively reducing your pain and symptoms. Conservative treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Pain medications
  • Massage
  • Behavior modification
  • Epidural injections

If these or other conservative treatments are not enough to find relief from neck pain, your physician might recommend a surgical treatment.

A safer, more effective surgical treatment for bulging disc

There are two types of surgery from which you can choose to treat a severely bulging disc: traditional open neck surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery.

Traditional open neck surgery is a highly invasive procedure that is performed in a hospital and requires two to three days of postoperative hospital stay for monitored recovery. The surgery begins with the surgeon making a large incision in the neck, cutting through the surrounding muscles and soft tissue to access the spine. This invasive incision increases the risk of infection and excessive blood loss. Cutting through the muscles also increases the recovery time while the muscles heal and rebuild. Once the spine is accessed, the diseased disc is removed and a bone graft is inserted with metal to fuse together the surrounding vertebrae. The recovery time for a traditional open neck fusion could be about 3 – 6 months, with some patients waiting a year before being able to return to daily activities.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck fusion. Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure due to the high patient satisfaction score (96^) and minimally invasive techniques. The surgery begins with a small incision in the neck. Through this small incision, the surgeon accesses the spine without disrupting the surrounding muscles or soft tissue. The surgeon then removes the diseased disc and frees the impacted nerve root in the spinal canal, which should reduce your chronic pain. Once the disc is removed, the surgeon inserts an implant into the empty space to stabilize the spine.

For more information about bulging discs and the treatment options available to you, please contact our Care Team. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.