Can a bulging disc cause muscle spasms?

 If you have been experiencing sharp bursts of pain in your back, it might be muscle spasms caused by a bulging disc. Muscle spasms can be quick and intermittent or they can be dull and long-lasting. Each person’s experience and symptoms vary depending on the severity of the bulging disc and the location of the bulging disc. In addition to muscle spasms, a bulging disc can also cause localized pain, radiating pain, muscle weakness, pins-and-needles sensations, tingling and numbness.

What causes muscle spasms when you have a bulging disc?

Muscle spasms happen when a bulging disc compresses a nerve root. When a nerve is pinched, or compressed, it becomes irritated and inflamed. The nerve root sends sudden signals of pain and tension to nearby muscles resulting in muscle spasms.

Muscle spasms can also be produced by micromotion instability in the spine caused by a bulging disc. A weak spinal disc is unable to absorb as much impact as a healthy disc. When you have a bulging disc, the disc is weakened and unable to control motion within the spine, this condition is referred to as micromotion instability. Because your spine is not being controlled, the muscles may spasm in an attempt to restore stability to the spine.

Treating a bulging disc and muscle spasms

For most people experiencing painful symptoms and muscle spasms caused by a bulging disc, conservative treatment options can help to control symptoms so they don’t become a permanent part of your life. Conservative treatment options for a bulging disc causing muscle spasms include:

  • Pain medication and muscle relaxants
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Compression
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Massage
  • Steroid injections

Some people find pain relief using alternative and complementary medicine options such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy and yoga. Additionally, your physician may recommend lifestyle modification to help resolve bulging disc symptoms and muscle spasms. Lifestyle modifications include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, losing excess weight and avoiding high-impact and contact sports and activities.

If after a few months, conservative treatment options are unable to control the symptoms and muscle spasms you are experiencing due to a bulging disc, surgical options should be explored. If left untreated, a bulging disc can lead to permanent nerve or muscle damage and limited mobility.