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What is a bulging disc?

A bulging disc occurs when one of the spinal discs is pushed out of its normal perimeter in the spinal column. Bulging discs commonly develop in the lumbar (lower) and cervical (upper) regions of the spine, but they can also occur in the thoracic (middle) spine as well.

Each disc is made up of a strong outer layer of cartilage with a softer, gel-like material constituting the center. These discs cushion the vertebrae, absorbing much of the shock placed on the spine through normal movement. Activities such as walking, bending forward, lifting and even sitting all put stress on your spine, especially if performed improperly.

A doctor performing a full physical evaluation can diagnose the presence of a bulging disc, often with the assistance of diagnostic imagery like an X-ray, CT scan or MRI.

How serious is a bulging disc?

A bulging disc is a fairly common condition and, in many cases, won’t cause pain. Over time, the discs in your back age, and they become drier and weaker. This weakening makes them more prone to damage. While age is the primary reason for a bulging disc, other contributors can include aggravating a previous back injury, being overweight, poor posture, smoking and incorrectly lifting heavy items.

Although some people have bulging discs and are free of symptoms, they can occur or increase if the bulge puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord. As a result, the compressed nerve can produce feelings of pain in the neck or back. Depending on the location of the inflamed nerve, symptoms like pain, numbness, weakness, spasms and tingling may also travel to the arms and legs.

Bulging disc treatment

To learn more about treatment options for a bulging disc, contact USA Spine Care. Conservative treatment options like chiropractic care and physical therapy can be effective for bulging disc symptoms, but surgery can be a serious option if pain becomes chronic and debilitating after weeks and months of pursuing other options. We’re proud to offer minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication for our patients.^

Ask for your free MRI or CT scan review* from a member of our caring team to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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