A bulging disc is a fairly common form of spinal degeneration that can occur when a spinal disc is put under pressure and its inner gel-like contents push against the outer wall until a bulge develops. This condition is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine), particularly in the L4-L5 area, as this is the portion of the spine that supports the most body weight and endures the most daily wear and tear. Bulging discs are most commonly diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50, as the body’s natural aging process can cause spinal discs to lose elasticity and become fragile.
Many bulging discs are asymptomatic, though they can cause pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling if the disc bulge results in nerve compression.
Exercises to avoid when you’re experiencing lower back pain
If you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc in your lower back, you physician will likely recommend that you avoid high-impact activities such as running, jumping and participating in contact sports like football and hockey. The stress that these activities cause could potentially turn a small disc bulge into a larger one, or even cause the affected disc to rupture. Swimming, biking, walking and using elliptical machines are excellent alternatives that can provide the exercise your body needs without subjecting your spine to further injury.
Treating a bulging disc
While a disc bulge can’t be repaired without surgery, there are a variety of nonsurgical options that can help reduce the strain on the spine and potentially provide the type of symptom relief you are looking for. Some possibilities include:
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Losing excess weight
- Chiropractic care
- Alternating hot and cold compresses
While many individuals will be able to find the level of symptom relief they are looking for through nonsurgical treatments, more severe bulging discs may not respond to these types of treatment and their symptoms may worsen over time. In these cases, surgery becomes a consideration.
If you are experiencing lower back pain that is affecting your day-to-day life, USA Spine Care will provide a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgery to treat bulging discs. If you would like to learn more about our outpatient treatment options, contact us today.