For many people, the symptoms of a bulging disc in the lower back are experienced before a diagnosis is ever made. These symptoms can involve ongoing pain and discomfort, sometimes negatively impacting a person’s quality of life.
Because a bulging disc in the lower back is often caused by the natural deterioration of the spine, the symptoms may develop slowly and worsen over time without treatment. Symptoms that do not go away after a couple weeks of rest and over-the-counter medication could be related to a bulging disc.
If you are experiencing the gradual onset of pain and you think a bulging disc in the lower back is to blame, schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis of your condition.
Common bulging disc symptoms
The first part of your appointment will likely consist of your doctor asking questions about your symptoms. You should expect questions such as:
- When did your symptoms develop?
- Is there any movement or stretch that makes your condition better or worse?
- Do your symptoms travel to other areas of your body?
Your doctor will use these questions to determine if your pain matches the common symptoms experienced by patients who have a bulging disc in the lower back. These symptoms include:
- Burning sensation
- Muscle fatigue
- Limited flexibility
In some cases, a bulging disc in the lower back can compress the large sciatic nerve and cause sciatica — a series of painful symptoms that develop when the sciatic nerve is pinched.
Sciatica symptoms are the same as common bulging disc symptoms, but they travel the length of the sciatic nerve, which stretches from the lower back to the feet. That’s why someone with a bulging disc in the lower back that causes sciatica pain could experience pain, weakness or numbness in the legs and feet.
Once your doctor confirms that you have a bulging disc in your lower back, you can begin to discuss the treatment options available to you. For many people, conservative treatments are an effective method of pain relief for bulging discs and pinched nerves along the spine.
However, some patients may require spine surgery if conservative treatments are ineffective. If this is your situation, ask your doctor about the surgical options available to you and the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery over traditional open spine surgery.