A bulging disc is a condition where a spinal disc extends, or bulges, out of its normal perimeter in the spinal column. This spine condition can be related to factors like traumatic injury and repetitive motion, but the largest underlying factor is natural degeneration that causes the discs to become less able to withstand the pressure being placed on them every day. Disc bulges often develop in the lumbar (lower) region of the spinal column due to the amount of movement that occurs in this area combined with pressure from supporting the weight of the upper body.
If bulging disc material puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord in the lower back, it can cause localized pain as well as radiating symptoms that shoot into the lower body. These symptoms like tingling, numbness and muscle weakness can take you away from the people and activities you love. If your life is being disrupted by a bulging disc in the lower back, you should work with your doctor to develop an effective personalized treatment plan.
Exercises for bulging disc treatment
In addition to options like hot/cold compression and medication to relieve pain and inflammation, there are many exercises that can help treat this condition. The primary goal of exercise for a bulging disc is to strengthen the muscles and connective tissue around the spine, while improving spinal flexibility. This helps to relieve pressure on the discs, potentially also helping to relieve nerve compression.
Here are three exercises commonly recommended by doctors and physical therapists to help with a bulging disc in the lower back:
- Bridging. Bridging exercises involve lying flat on your back and using the gluteal muscles to carefully elevate the buttocks and lower back. This is a great exercise for strengthening these muscle groups.
- Planking. Planking exercises are designed to engage muscles across the entire body, especially the core. A standard plank can be performed from a pushup position or by resting on the forearms. Planks can be held for progressively longer periods of time as you gain strength, but don’t overdo it.
- Sciatic nerve glides. These exercises gently stretch your hamstrings and the sciatic nerve, which can often be irritated or compressed by a bulging disc. This involves lying flat on your back, placing both hands behind the leg, slowly pulling until tension is felt and then releasing.
Any form of exercise, whether stretching, strengthening or cardiovascular, should be performed with the supervision of a qualified doctor or physical therapist if you have been diagnosed with a spine condition like a bulging disc. Listen to your body and stop at the first sign of discomfort, especially if you are just starting out.
Bulging disc surgery
A conservative treatment plan that includes exercises is often effective in bringing lasting relief for a bulging disc, but surgery can become a serious consideration if weeks and months go by without an improvement in symptoms. To learn more about the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery for a bulging disc, contact USA Spine Care today. Our outpatient procedures offer a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.
We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.