If you are experiencing pain, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling caused by a bulging disc, chances are symptoms will resolve on their own or with conservative care. The normal symptoms of a bulging disc do not require urgent care or an emergency doctor. Your primary care physician, orthopedist or neurologist can provide a diagnosis and treatment recommendations during normal practice hours.

When should you seek emergency care for a bulging disc?

 Most of the time a bulging disc will heal and symptoms will resolve. Most people find that a combination of conservative treatment options will control symptoms and offer pain relief. For some people though conservative treatment is unsuccessful after a few months and surgery is required. In very rare cases, a bulging disc can present as urgent and require an emergency doctor. If you are experiencing the following symptoms or scenarios, you should seek immediate emergency medical care:

  • Trauma, injury or accident. If you have recently been in a car accident, a slip and fall, severe sports injury or other trauma, seek immediate medical attention. Your pain may be caused by a bulging disc that will resolve on it’s own, or your injury may be more severe and require additional medical attention.
  • Progressive numbness. If you are experiencing numbness that is progressively getting worse, hour-by-hour, seek emergency medical attention. This can be an indication of damage to the spinal cord.
  • Progressive weakness. If you have muscle weakness that is rapidly progressing, so that you are unable to use your arms or legs, seek emergency care.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control. If you experience any loss of bladder or bowel control seek immediate medical attention. This is an indication of a serious spinal cord injury that requires emergency medical care.
  • Unable to walk. If you normally have the ability to walk, but find that you are unable to walk, seek care from an emergency doctor.

It is important to receive immediate medical care if you experience any of the above scenarios or symptoms in order to prevent further damage or injury. An emergency doctor will be able to diagnose your bulging disc symptoms and provide immediate medical care if required or refer you to a specialist.