In addition to pain and muscular symptoms, a bulging disc can also cause sensory symptoms, such as a pins-and-needles sensation, numbness and tingling.
What is a bulging disc?
The spine is made up of vertebrae, ligaments, tendons, muscles and spinal discs that all work together to support the weight of the body and allow for movement and flexibility. The discs are located in between each of the vertebra and provide cushioning and absorb shock. A bulging disc happens when one of the discs becomes flattened and protrudes out of the normal space that it occupies out into the spinal canal.
When a bulging disc compresses a nearby nerve root, painful symptoms result, such as muscle weakness, muscle spasms, localized pain, radiation pain, pins-and-needles sensations, numbness and tingling.
What causes the symptoms of a bulging disc?
When a disc bulges out into the spinal canal it can put pressure on a nearby nerve root or the spinal cord. If a nerve root is compressed it becomes inflamed and is unable to function properly. When compressed, a nerve sends signals of pain along with a burning sensation, numbness, tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation. The sensory symptoms are usually felt all along the nerve path. If you have a bulging disc in your neck, it is likely that you will feel symptoms in your neck, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. If you have a bulging disc in your lower back, you will probably experience symptoms in your lower back, your hip, through the buttocks, down your leg, all the way to your foot and toes.
Treatment for a bulging disc causing pins-and-needles sensation
If you have been experiencing symptoms caused by a bulging disc, including pins-and-needles sensation, it is important to schedule an appointment with your physician. If left untreated, a bulging disc can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage. Once your physician has diagnosed your bulging disc, he or she will recommend a combination of conservative treatment options to provide symptoms relief and help your body heal. Conservative treatment options for a bulging disc include the following:
- Heat and ice therapy
- Exercise and stretching
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections
If symptoms do not subside over time with conservative treatments, the next option to consider is bulging disc surgery.