Understanding the causes of bulging discs can help you avoid activities that may worsen your symptoms. A bulging disc occurs when the disc’s tough outer shell weakens, prompting its softcore to press against the shell and bulge outward. While there can be several causes for a bulging disc, this weakening is often related to age. As we grow older, the spine’s discs and other components begin to lose water content and become increasingly brittle. While the natural aging process can’t be avoided, some activities and behaviors accelerate the spinal degeneration process and increase the risk of disc protrusion at a younger age. To help maintain good spinal health, consider:
- Losing excess weight
- Eating a balanced and nutrient-rich diet
- Quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco
- Keeping good posture
- Avoiding high impact sports and exercises
Additionally, be sure to protect your back when lifting, engage in low-impact exercise to strengthen core muscles and adopt a routine of gentle stretching. These behaviors can help keep your spine healthy and help you avoid bulging discs as you age.
Despite taking measures to maintain good spine health, bulging discs sometimes occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Several techniques may be used to confirm the presence of a bulging disc including X-ray imaging, a CT (computed tomography) scan, or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Following the diagnosis of a symptomatic bulging disc, your physician will recommend treatments designed to relieve symptoms such as rest, exercises, and medication. Often symptoms arising from bulging discs can be effectively managed with these conservative treatments. If conservative treatment fails, however, your physician might recommend surgery to address the underlying cause of pain.