What is a Bulging Disc
A bulging disc can cause painful symptoms, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. A common diagnosis for people 50 years of age or older as the aging process slowly weakens the discs, making them more likely to develop a bulging disc. If you have recently been diagnosed with this condition, or suspect that you have this condition, work with your physician to develop a treatment plan. A bulging disc can rupture or lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage if left untreated.
Your Treatment Options
In order to avoid irreversible nerve and muscle damage, work with your physician to develop a bulging disc treatment plan. The first line of treatment is typically a combination of conservative treatments including:
- Heat and ice therapy. Combining heat and ice therapy, alternating back and forth, can be a very effective form of treatment. Heat therapy helps to relieve pain and increase circulation, while ice therapy helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. Both can help with bulging disc symptoms.
- Pain medication. Pain medication can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter pain medication may be effective enough to control your pain. If over-the-counter options don’t control your pain, your physician may prescribe narcotics, anticonvulsants, or muscle relaxers.
- Exercise and stretching. It is important to stay active. Low-impact exercises can help keep the body in shape and fit while minimizing the impact on the spine. Stretching can help to prevent stiffness and increase the range of motion.
- Lifestyle factors. Smoking can contribute to spine conditions, so you should consider stop smoking as soon as possible. Excess alcohol can also contribute to a bulging disc so it is recommended to reduce alcohol consumption. If you’re overweight, shedding excess pounds can help improve bulging disc symptoms as well.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy combines targeted stretches and exercises with massage therapy. A physical therapist can help you with positions and exercises designed to help minimize your symptoms and work toward healing.
- Steroid injections. Steroids such as cortisone can be injected directly into the area near the bulging disc. The injections help to reduce inflammation of surrounding nerves. Steroid injections can relieve pain and swelling so you can participate in physical therapy.
Is Surgery an Option
If after a few months of conservative treatment you are still experiencing symptoms, it may be time to consider surgery. A bulging disc can rupture or cause permanent nerve and muscle damage if left untreated. If a bulging disc causes long-term muscle and nerve damage it can become irreversible and will last for the rest of your life.
Contact BEST Health System to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery to help relieve your symptoms. We are happy to help determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.