What is a Bulging Disc
A bulging disc occurs when one of the gel-filled pads situated between two vertebrae shifts out of its normal position in the spinal column. These shock-absorbing discs separate and cushion the vertebrae. They also allow enough room for spinal nerve roots to exit the spinal canal. The spinal canal then travels to the arms and legs. An out-of-place disc can potentially obstruct and pressure a nerve root, leading to pain, numbness, tingling, sensations, and muscle weakness.
In some cases, a bulging disc will resolve on its own with time. Or it may be repaired if necessary. Because repairing a damaged disc can sometimes be accomplished without surgery, most physicians advise their patients to try conservative treatment before considering a surgical procedure.
Conservative Treatment Options
Here are some ways to promote the healing of a bulging disc:
- As soon as pain develops, take a brief break from activities that tax the spine. Such as bending and lifting, in order to avoid worsening the damage and aggravating the discomfort.
- Perform physician-approved stretching and strengthening exercises to build support for the spine. This can shift some of the weight burdens away from the damaged disc onto surrounding muscles
- Alternately apply hot and cold packs as often as needed for pain relief
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as directed
Surgical Repair for Bulging Disc
For excessive pain or incontinence (a rare but serious complication of nerve spinal compression), it is important to seek prompt medical attention. If appropriate, a spine specialist may recommend surgical treatment for a bulging disc. Such as a laminectomy or discectomy, before proceeding with a surgical procedure, it’s important to consider the possible risks, complications, and outcomes. Many people prefer to go with the least invasive option possible.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc and would like to explore your surgical treatment options, contact BEST Health System. Our team can help determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgery, which is a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.