When you are experiencing symptoms from a bulging disc, it can be difficult to concentrate on anything but the pain and discomfort you feel. However, it’s important to discover the cause or causes of your condition. Pinpointing the reason for your discomfort can help your doctor provide you with effective treatments, as well as give you a greater understanding of the condition.
A bulging disc occurs when the outer wall of the spinal disc, known as the annulus fibrosis, is weakened and pushes out beyond its normal size. Bulging disc causes include:
- Aging — As we age, our spinal discs naturally dehydrate and lose water, weakening the discs and making them more susceptible to damage.
- Wear and tear of the spinal discs — Our spines, especially the lower spine, handle a lot of weight and pressure and over time our spines experience wear and tear from extensive use.
- Traumatic injury such as from a car accident — A traumatic injury can immediately cause lasting damage to the spine.
- Degenerative disc disease — This is a condition where the spinal discs lose cushioning and can develop fragmentation and herniation related to aging.
- Heredity — Some people are simply more genetically inclined to developing a bulging disc than others.
Bulging discs can cause the following symptoms
Regardless of the specific cause, if the bulging disc pushes against a nerve root or the spinal cord, the disc can cause symptoms to develop that can significantly impact your quality of life. These symptoms include:
- Muscle spasms
- Pins and needles
Surgically treating a bulging disc
The cause of your bulging disc will help determine the best course of treatment. However, most patients begin a series of nonsurgical treatments that are often successful in treating symptoms. These noninvasive treatments include pain medication, lifestyle changes and physical therapy.
If these nonsurgical treatments fail to relieve the symptoms of your bulging disc, surgery may then be considered. There are two main types of surgery to treat a bulging disc: traditional open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. Traditional open spine surgery has for years been the only option in the field of spine surgery but it is a highly invasive procedure involving hospitalization, large incisions, muscle tearing and a long recovery.
In contrast, minimally invasive spine surgery is performed using small incisions that avoid unnecessary muscle tearing. Minimally invasive spine surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis allowing patients to avoid hospital-associated costs and return to their lives faster.
If you think you may need surgery to treat your bulging disc symptoms, speak to your physician about the options available for you.