If you have recently been diagnosed with a bulging disc, there are several treatment options to consider before bulging disc surgery. Acupuncture is considered a complementary and alternative form of treatment that may help to improve the painful symptoms you are experiencing due to a bulging disc.

What is a bulging disc?

Spinal discs play an important role in absorbing shock and pressure that is exerted on the spine. The discs also help the spine and vertebrae with flexibility, twisting and movement. If one of the discs becomes flattened or compressed, the tough outer layer of the disc can protrude out of its normal space in between the vertebrae and into the spinal canal. When a disc bulges out into the spinal canal it can compress nearby nerve roots causing painful symptoms. A bulging disc can cause localized pain, radiating pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. The pain can be sharp or burning, or the pain can radiate from the area of the bulging disc down through the extremities.

Acupuncture as bulging disc treatment

Acupuncture is derived from traditional Chinese medicine practices based on the belief that pain is caused by a disruption in the flow of the body’s energy, called qi. Acupuncture uses needles to stimulate acupressure points in the body in order to release the trapped qi.

During an acupuncture session a trained practitioner stimulates specific parts of the body by inserting very thin needles into the skin. Because the needles are thin and inserted by a trained professional, treatment is relatively painless.

It is thought that the insertion of needles can help to stimulate the nerves. Once stimulated, the nerve sends signals to the brain to release endorphins in order to reduce pain and swelling. It is also thought that the insertion of needles can help to reduce inflammatory proteins in the body to relieve pain and aid in healing.

Conservative bulging disc treatments

In addition to acupuncture, consider additional conservative treatment options to minimize pain, reduce inflammation and allow the body time to heal itself. Consider the following conservative bulging disc treatment options in addition to acupuncture:

  • Rest
  • Pain medication
  • Massage therapy
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Stretching and exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle modification

If conservative bulging disc treatment fails to control symptoms after a few months, talk to your physician about more aggressive therapies such as steroid injections or bulging disc surgery. Surgery may be the best course as an untreated bulging disc can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage.