A bulging disc can cause painful symptoms and interrupt your everyday activities. If a bulging disc puts pressure on a surrounding nerve root or the spinal cord, it can cause painful symptoms. When the nerve root is compressed it can swell and become inflamed. The nerve is unable to function properly and sends signals of pain. A bulging disc requires treatment because if left untreated, it can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage.

Bulging disc symptoms

A bulging disc can cause localized pain near the affected disc along with pain that radiates along the path of the compressed nerve. In addition to pain, a bulging disc can cause sensory problems including:

  • Change in sensation
  • Loss of sensation
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pins-and-needles sensations
  • Burning
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of fine motor skills

Bulging disc symptoms, such as muscle weakness, can make it difficult for you to stand or walk while the loss of fine motor skills can make it difficult to accomplish the most basic tasks of daily living, as you may not be able to use your fingers.

Sensory problems can occur anywhere along the nerve path of the compressed nerve. For a bulging disc in the lower back, symptoms can occur anywhere in the lower back, buttocks, hips, legs or feet. If you have a bulging disc in your neck, symptoms can occur in the neck, shoulders, arm or fingers. Although a bulging disc in the middle of the back is uncommon, symptoms are experienced in the abdomen and chest.

Bulging disc treatment

Bulging disc symptoms such as pain, numbness, pins-and-needles, tingling and burning can usually be resolved with a combination of conservative treatment options. Conservative treatment for a bulging disc usually includes some of the following treatments:

  • Rest
  • Pain medication
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

If after a few months of conservative treatment, your bulging disc symptoms are still disrupting your life, consult with your physician about surgical options including minimally invasive bulging disc surgery.