Experiencing numbness anywhere in your body can be an alarming sensation. Specifically, experiencing numbness that’s unrelated to a foot or hand falling asleep from resting in an odd position may be a red flag that something is wrong in your body.

While you may be correct in identifying that something in your body is off — causing you to experience chronic numbness — not many people associate numbness with a spine condition. In fact, most people assume acute pain is the symptom of a spine condition like a bulging disc or pinched nerve. Numbness from a bulging disc, however, is one of the most common symptoms of this condition and can be easily mistaken for something else.

By being able to identify numbness from a bulging disc as opposed to other conditions, you and your doctor may be able to identify your condition faster and find a treatment.

What causes numbness from a bulging disc?

A bulging disc does not cause symptoms on its own; symptoms of pain and numbness only occur when the bulging disc presses against a nearby nerve root. These nerve roots near the spine are responsible for transmitting signals of pain, feeling and muscle movement between the brain, spine and the associated extremity.

Specifically, numbness from a bulging disc develops when a nerve root is compressed to the point that the signals sent between the nerve, brain and extremity become interfered. For example, a bulging disc in the cervical spine (neck) may cause numbness in the hand or fingers; numbness from a bulging disc in the lumbar spine (lower back) may develop in the legs or feet.

Other symptoms of a bulging disc may include:

  • Local or radiating pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensation
  • Limited mobility
  • Slowed reflexes

What to do if you experience numbness from a bulging disc

If you are experiencing numbness from a bulging disc, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your primary doctor to make sure a bulging disc is the source of your symptoms. In some cases, numbness can be the result of a more serious condition.

If you are having difficulty moving your limbs, speaking or focusing, call 911 immediately because you may be having a stroke.

Once your doctor diagnoses you with a bulging disc, you can begin a series of recommended conservative treatments, such as pain medication and physical therapy. If these treatments prove ineffective after several months, spine surgery may be considered.

There are two main types of spine surgery for a bulging disc: open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. When compared to traditional open spine surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and more effective alternative for patients with spine conditions like a bulging disc or pinched nerve. Ask your doctor about the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery for your condition and take your life back from chronic pain and symptoms.