Bulging Disc – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Bulging Disc – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Discs in the spine act as cushions between the vertebrae. They are made up of two layers – the tough outer cartilage and soft inner cartilage. With age, these discs show signs of wear and tear as well as dehydration. Due to this, the outer layer protrudes out of its circumference, resulting in a bulging disc.

A bulging disc only occurs in the outer cartilage layer. Bulging or protruding discs are a common occurrence. They are usually asymptomatic which is why many people do not realize that they have bulging discs. The treatment for bulging discs focuses on providing relief from the symptoms. The common treatment options for bulging disc involve medication, rest, warm compress, and exercises. When these conservative measures do not provide relief, the doctor may recommend surgery as well.

Causes and symptoms of bulging discs
The following are the leading causes of bulging discs:

  • Age: As you grow old, the outer layer of your spinal discs bulge out due to dehydration and loss of elasticity. Middle-aged people usually suffer from bulging discs too.
  • Genetics: Having a family history of bulging disc is another reason why you may develop this condition.
  • Lifestyle: Smoking is known to cause a breakdown of the disc. Lack of regular exercise or obesity also contributes to bulging disc.
  • Posture: Maintaining a good posture is essential to prevent spinal problems. Inappropriate sitting or standing postures can lead to bulging discs.
  • Injury: Incorrect postures while weight lifting or accidents may cause bulging discs.

Bulging discs are mostly asymptomatic in the initial stages. As the bulging worsens, you may experience pain, tingling, numbness or muscle spasms.

Treatment for bulging discs
Bulging disc treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the location of the bulging disc. One can consider conservative treatment options for mild to moderate symptoms of bulging discs. Physicians recommend the following treatment options for patients with bulging discs who do not have severe symptoms:

  • Weight loss and modifications in lifestyle
  • Limited rest and avoidance of weight lifting
  • Pain relief medications
  • Customized exercise routine
  • Epidural injections
  • Stretching and strengthening methods for the spine
  • Heat therapy

One can follow alternative treatments like acupuncture, spinal decompression therapy, and chiropractic treatment to get relief from the symptoms of bulging disc. When conservative methods as described above do not provide relief, surgery is the only bulging disc treatment option left.

Bulging disc treatment depends upon the severity of the symptoms. Surgical treatment for bulging disc is usually the last option. Therefore, it is best to consult your medical professional with all the details of your condition. They will help you decide on an appropriate line of treatment.