A bulging disc is an extremely common spinal condition. In fact, by some estimates more than half of Americans over the age of 50 have some degree of disc deterioration. However, most people are unaware of it. The reason for this is that a bulging disc will only trigger symptoms if it deforms enough for the outer wall to pinch a nearby nerve root. When this happens, it can cause pain at the site of the compression. It can also cause muscle weakness, tingling, burning sensations, and numbness all along the route of the affected nerve. Since bulging discs worsen slowly over time, initial symptoms are usually mild to intermittent. This is why patients seldom seek treatment in the early stages of this condition.
The Next Step
When symptoms of a bulging disc become severe enough to warrant a trip to the doctor, the first step in developing an effective treatment strategy is to determine exactly where the nerve compression is taking place. This will likely require one or more imaging tests, such as an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan. Once a precise diagnosis has been made a combination of conservative strategies is usually recommended. This can include lifestyle modifications such as weight loss and quitting smoking, physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stretching, exercises, and hot/cold compression. Additional pain management strategies may include alternative therapies such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, and deep tissue massage.
Do You Need Bulging Disc Surgery?
If these are unsuccessful in effectively managing symptoms, bulging disc surgery may be necessary to provide long-term pain relief. At BEST Health System, we offer a number of outpatient surgeries that are a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open back procedures. Using muscle-sparing techniques and an incision that is typically less than an inch, our surgeons can perform a:
- Discectomy. A portion of the disc is removed to alleviate nerve compression
- Laminotomy or Foraminotomy. To open space in the central spinal canal or around the opening through which the nerve exits the spinal column
- Stabilization. The entire disc is removed and the adjacent vertebrae are fused together to form a single bone
If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc and are still experiencing chronic pain in your neck or back despite months of conservative treatment options, you may be a candidate for surgery at BEST Health System. Feel free to contact us today!