Most often occurring in the upper (cervical) or lower (lumbar) region of the spine, a bulging disc describes a disc that extends out of its designated space in the spinal column. This condition is frequently an unavoidable effect of the natural aging process, and it is caused by the weakening or thinning of the disc’s outer layer (called the annulus fibrosus). This allows the pressure from the disc’s inner layer (known as the nucleus pulposus) to force the disc to expand, protruding out of its space between two vertebrae and into the spinal column.
Bulging disc symptoms
A bulging disc alone is usually not enough to cause noticeable symptoms in a patient. However, when the disc irritates a spinal nerve root or the spinal cord, a variety of symptoms may develop, including:
- Chronic pain at the site of nerve compression
- Pain that radiates along a nerve’s pathway
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of fine motor skills in the hands
- Difficulty walking
While these symptoms have the potential to become debilitating if left untreated, it is important for patients with a bulging disc to remember that they are still capable of leading full, active lives. By taking charge of their diagnosis and managing their symptoms, it is very likely that patients will continue to have a high quality of life despite their condition.
Bulging disc treatment
Treatment for a bulging disc usually begins with conservative, nonsurgical options, such as pain medication, hot/cold therapy and corticosteroid injections. While most patients respond to these therapies, occasionally, more extensive treatment may be recommended. If your physician has suggested surgery to treat your bulging disc, consult with the experts at USA Spine Care. Our surgeons perform a number of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures to treat bulging discs which have a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery. To receive a no-cost review* of your MRI and find out if you are a candidate for our procedures, contact USA Spine Care today.