A degenerative bulging disc describes a spinal disc that has weakened and deteriorated with the natural aging process and is now protruding outward into the spinal canal.
Many people develop some degree of a degenerative bulging disc as they age. This is commonly due to the factors surrounding the natural aging process such as weight gain, weakened core muscles and dehydration.
Development of a degenerative bulging disc
Degenerative bulging discs are sometimes linked to degenerative disc disease, a condition common with aging. As we age, the wear and tear from a lifetime of physical activity causes certain components of the spine to deteriorate.
Age-related deterioration threatens the integrity of spinal discs through a series of ways. For example, discs are made from a connective tissue containing water. As a person gets older, this connective tissue dehydrates and loses its elasticity and strength. Daily activity places pressure on the disc and continues to weaken the disc’s elastic outer layer. As a consequence of lost flexibility, the disc’s core material pushes outward, stretching the boundary of the disc.
Eventually, the disc flattens and bulges outward, protruding into the spinal canal and possibly pinching a nearby nerve root.
Treatment for a degenerative bulging disc
When a bulging disc pinches a nerve, symptoms of pain, numbness and discomfort can develop. For many people, conservative, nonsurgical treatments can help alleviate the pain of a degenerative bulging disc.
Common conservative treatments for a degenerative bulging disc include:
- Participating in regular, low-impact aerobic exercise in the form of walking or swimming
- Performing specific bulging disc exercises to strengthen back and abdominal muscles
- Practicing good posture while walking, standing or sitting at the computer
- Stretching to maximize flexibility
- Practicing proper body mechanics when performing any task
- Participating in bulging disc physical therapy sessions with a licensed therapist
However, if you develop a degenerative bulging disc that is pressing on a spinal nerve and causing severe pain, more aggressive medical intervention, such as spinal injections or surgery, could be required.
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