You’ve just seen a doctor for the constant pain you have been feeling in your lower back, and the doctor diagnosed you with a bulging disc. Like many people in this situation, you’re probably wondering what is a bulging disc in your back, and how did it happen?
For many people, no sudden fall or injury can be held responsible for the development of a bulging disc, so it may be shocking that a disc in your spine has weakened without causing pain. You’re not alone in this thought — the most common cause of a bulging disc in the back is the natural aging of the spine.
Learning about exactly what is a bulging disc in your back can be an important step in finding treatment for your condition.
Causes of a bulging disc
The most common reason a bulging disc develops in the spine is the natural weakening and deterioration of the spine with age. Age plays a big role in the vitality of the discs within the spine, and understanding how the discs are affected can help you take preventative steps for future spine health.
Each disc in the spine cushions the vertebrae from sudden impact to daily movements. To allow the spine to have a full range of motion, the discs are comprised of a gel-like nucleus and a tough, but elastic, outer layer. Because the disc is built this way, it is able to bend and move with the spine to absorb any shock or compression.
Over time, constant pressure from continual movement and sometimes weight gain will cause the disc’s nucleus to expand and press against the outer layer. Eventually, the elasticity in the outer layer can stretch from this constant pressure and bulge into the spinal canal.
Now that you know more about what is a bulging disc in your back, you can begin to research the treatment options available to you.
Your doctor will help you find a series of treatments, often nonsurgical to start, that can help relieve your symptoms while your condition heals. For many patients, conservative treatments are an effective method of pain relief.
However, some patients may require spine surgery if months of nonsurgical therapy has not relieved the symptoms. Your doctor can walk you through your surgical options if this is your situation.