What is a Bulging Disc?
When one of the discs in the spine protrudes out of its usual position, it is known as a bulging disc. This condition is fairly common, and while it can cause pain if the disc compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord, it can also cause no symptoms.
Many times, the body can fix the bulging disc on its own. It’s common for patients to experience symptoms for several days, only to disappear completely without extensive treatment. As a result, most physicians recommend a wait-and-see approach for the first few weeks of treatment.
Conservative therapies, such as pain medications, stretching, exercise, and physical therapy, can help patients manage their discomfort during the initial treatment period as they wait to see if their condition improves. Common options for conservative treatment include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications (both prescription and over-the-counter)
- Hot or cold compresses
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Physical therapy sessions
- Activity modification (avoiding activities that make the pain worse)
- Epidural steroid injections
Many patients also turn to complementary therapies during this time as well. Yoga, therapeutic massage, and acupuncture are all popular options. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol and tobacco consumption and regularly getting low-impact cardiovascular exercise can help individuals with bulging discs improve their overall health and quality of life.
Surgery for a Bulging Disc
If a disc moves back to its normal position after several months, a physician may recommend addressing the displaced disc with surgery. During a traditional spinal fusion, a surgeon can remove the disc and replace it with a bone graft or other implant, then permanently fuse the vertebrae together. However, open back surgery often involves a long hospital stay and an extensive recovery.
Another option for surgical bulging disc treatment is minimally invasive surgery, such as the procedures performed at BEST Health System. Our board-certified surgeons work with patients to help them find the most effective, least invasive treatment option. Are you ready to find relief? Contact BEST Health System today.