What is a bulging disc?

 Vertebrae along with discs, ligaments, muscles and tendons support the spine. Spinal discs are located in between the vertebrae and help to absorb shock and allow for flexibility and movement. The natural aging process and everyday wear and tear on the spine can cause the tough outer layer of the discs to become brittle and more susceptible to damage. When the outer layer becomes flattened over time, it can protrude out into the spinal column resulting in a bulging disc. A bulging disc may cause localized pain. If the disc puts pressure on a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord, symptoms can include radiating pain, burning sensations, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling.

What is neuralgia?

Neuralgia is described as burning nerve pain and happens when a nerve root is compressed or injured. When a nerve is compressed, it is unable to function properly and sends signals of pain along the path of the nerve. When a bulging disc compresses a nerve root, it can result in a burning sensation that is warm, electric or tingling. The burning sensation can travel from one part of the body to another, typically from the area of the bulging disc to the nearest extremity. Depending on the location of the bulging disc, symptoms can vary:

  • Bulging disc in the neck. A bulging disc in the neck, or a cervical bulging disc, can cause pain that begins in the neck and travels through the shoulder, to the arm and down into the hand and fingers.
  • Bulging disc in the back. A bulging disc in the middle of your back, or a thoracic bulging disc, can cause pain that travels from the back to the rib cage, chest and abdomen.
  • Bulging disc in the lower back. A bulging disc in the lower back, or a lumbar bulging disc, can cause pain that travels from the lower back, to the buttocks, hips, down the leg and into the feet and toes. These types of symptoms are usually called sciatica as the sciatic nerve is involved.

How do you treat a bulging disc and burning sensation?

Treatment for a bulging disc that is causing a burning sensation typically starts with a combination of conservative options such as rest, heat and ice therapy, exercise and stretching, pain medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modification and steroid injections. If these treatment options do not improve symptoms over the course of a few months, it may be necessary to consider surgery. If left untreated, a bulging disc can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage.