A bulging disc is a spinal disc that is bulging or protruding into the spinal column. If you have a bulging disc that is compressing the surrounding nerves or the spinal cord, it can cause painful symptoms such as radiating pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling.

Bulging disc symptoms in the neck and spine

A bulging disc can cause localized pain at the site of the injured disc. Pain near the location of the bulging disc varies from patient to patient. Some people describe the pain as a dull throb while others describe the pain as sharp or burning. In addition to pain, a bulging disc can cause muscle spasms, muscle cramps, tingling or numbness near the affected disc.

Bulging disc symptoms in the shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet

A bulging disc can also cause painful symptoms that radiate into the extremities. Although a bulging disc is located in the neck or the spine, it can cause painful and disruptive symptoms in other areas of the body as well. Symptoms include radiating pain, numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles sensation, muscle weakness, muscle spasms and muscle cramping.

The location of symptoms will depend on the area of the spine where the bulging disc is located.

  • Shoulders, arms and hands. A bulging disc in the neck or upper spine, called the cervical region, may cause radiating symptoms in the upper body that include the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
  • Chest and abdomen. A bulging disc in the middle of the spine, or thoracic region, generally affects the chest and abdomen. A bulging disc in this area is not very common as the spine is fixed to the ribcage.
  • Hips, buttocks, legs and feet. A bulging disc in the lower back, or lumbar region, will affect the lower body, including the hips, buttocks, legs, feet and toes. These symptoms may also be referred to as sciatica if the sciatic nerve is compressed.

Although the various symptoms of a bulging disc can be disruptive to your life and keep you from everyday activities, most people find symptom relief with a combination of conservative treatment options. If conservative options fail after a few months, your physician may recommend minimally invasive bulging disc surgery in order to treat your condition and provide symptom relief.