A bulging disc can cause painful symptoms, numbness, tingling or muscle weakness. A bulging disc is a common diagnosis for people 50 years of age or older as the aging process slowly weakens the discs, making it more likely to develop a bulging disc. If you have recently been diagnosed with a bulging disc, or suspect that you have a bulging disc, work with your physician to develop a treatment plan. If left untreated, a bulging disc can rupture or lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage.
Bulging disc treatment options to avoid permanent nerve and muscle damage
In order to avoid irreversible nerve and muscle damage, work with your physician to develop a bulging disc treatment plan. The first line of treatment for a bulging disc is typically a combination of conservative treatments including:
- Heat and ice therapy. Combining heat and ice therapy, alternating back and forth, can be very effective treatment for a bulging disc. Heat therapy helps to relieve pain and increase circulation, while ice therapy helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Pain medication. Pain medication can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be effective enough to control your pain. If over-the-counter options don’t control your pain, your physician may prescribe narcotics, anticonvulsants or muscle relaxers.
- Exercise and stretching. If you have a bulging disc, it is important to stay active. Low-impact exercises can help to keep the body in shape and fit, while minimizing impact on the spine. Stretching can help to prevent stiffness and increase range of motion.
- Lifestyle factors. Smoking can contribute to spine conditions, so it is recommended to quit smoking as soon as possible. Excess alcohol can also contribute to a bulging disc so it is recommended to reduce alcohol consumption. If you are overweight, shedding excess pounds can help to improve bulging disc symptoms as well.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy combines targeted stretches and exercises with massage. A physical therapist can help you with positions and exercises that are designed to help minimize the pain of a bulging disc and work toward healing.
- Steroid injections. Steroids such as cortisone can be injected directly into the area near the bulging disc. The injections can help to reduce inflammation of the surrounding nerves. Steroid injections can relieve pain and swelling so you can participate in physical therapy.
If after a few months of conservative bulging disc treatment you are still experiencing symptoms, it may be time to consider bulging disc surgery. If left untreated, a bulging disc can rupture or cause permanent nerve and muscle damage. If a bulging disc causes long-term muscle and nerve damage it can become irreversible, and will last the rest of your life.
Contact USA Spine Care to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery to help relieve your bulging disc symptoms. We are happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate* for one of our procedures.