A bulging intervertebral disc can occur anywhere along the spinal column. This condition is caused by stretching of a weakened intervertebral disc’s fibrous outer containment wall, which allows pressure from the disc’s core to cause disc bulge development.
In order to understand how a disc can develop a bulge, it is important to understand what intervertebral discs are and what function they perform. Intervertebral discs are the “cushions” situated between each bony vertebrae of the spinal column. The discs act like little shock absorbers in between the vertebrae as the neck and back bend, twist and deal with the bumps and blows of everyday life. As we age, daily wear and tear slowly degrades the spinal column, including the intervertebral discs. When the discs degenerate, they weaken and lose their shape. They develop bulges. Not only can bulges develop due to this degeneration, bulges can also develop when discs are damaged by trauma, like injuries sustained in a car accident or in a bad fall. Furthermore, if a disc’s outer fibrous ring tears, the opening can allow core contents to escape into the spinal column. This condition is called a herniated disc or ruptured disc.
When a disc bulges or ruptures, it can protrude abnormally into tiny spaces in the spinal canal where nerve roots and the spinal cord are located and place pressure on sensitive nerve tissue. Because nerve roots and the spinal cord send signals of sensation (including pain) to the brain, the pain, numbness or tingling felt due to a bulging disc in the back could also be experienced in the torso and limbs.
If your physician determines that a cervical, thoracic or lumbar bulging disc is causing your pain, he or she might recommend treatments like rest, exercise, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroid medications. If, after these conservative bulging disc treatments, pain persists or becomes worse, surgery could be recommended by your physician.
If you are concerned about the potential side effects and risks of traditional disc surgery, please consider the alternative, minimally invasive procedures offered by USA Spine Care. Contact USA Spine Care today to learn more about our fast recovery times, lower risks and high patient satisfaction scores.