A bulging disc can cause several painful symptoms if it compresses a nearby nerve root. Can a bulging disc cause foot pain?

What is bulging disc?

A bulging disc happens when one of the discs that helps cushion and support the spine protrudes from the normal space between the vertebrae out into the spinal column. The natural aging process, everyday wear and tear on the spine, a degenerative spine disease or an injury, can cause a bulging disc.

What are bulging disc symptoms?

When a bulging disc compresses a nearby nerve root, the nerve becomes inflamed and is unable to function properly. In response to the pressure, the nerve sends signals of pain. Symptoms include the following:

  • Localized pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pins-and-needles sensations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms

Can a bulging disc cause foot pain?

The symptoms of a bulging disc that has caused a pinched nerve can radiate along the path of the nerve. If you are suffering from a bulging disc in the lower back, it is likely that you are experiencing pain in your lower back along with symptoms that radiate from the lower back to the hips, buttocks, down a leg and into the foot and toes. In many cases, the sciatic nerve is involved, the longest nerve in the body that runs from the low back down both legs and into the feet, and the symptoms are referred to as sciatica. Even though the affected disc is located in the lower back, symptoms can be experienced all the way down to the foot and toes.

Bulging disc treatment

A combination of conservative treatment options is typically the course of treatment recommended for foot pain caused by a bulging disc. Conservative treatment should be maintained for a few months before surgical options are considered. Conservative treatment includes rest, heat and ice therapy, exercise and stretching, pain medication, steroid injections and physical therapy.

If after a few months of conservative treatment, bulging disc symptoms are still interfering with everyday activities, talk with your physician about minimally invasive bulging disc surgery. It is important to treat a bulging disc because if left untreated it can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage.