If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, the outer wall in one of your spinal discs has bulged beyond its normal boundary. If this disc presses against a nearby nerve root or spinal cord, the compression can cause the painful symptoms you may be experiencing.
Some of the most common symptoms of a bulging disc include:
- Chronic back or neck pain at the site of the bulging disc
- Pain that radiates along the nerve, including sciatica
- Unexplained muscle weakness and fatigue
- Numbness or a feeling of tingling in the arms or legs
- Diminished motor function
Bulging disc therapy options
Bulging disc therapy is an excellent way to manage these painful symptoms. In fact, most symptoms of a bulging disc can be managed effectively without the need for invasive open neck or back surgery. Once you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, your physician should work with you to develop a conservative treatment plan to manage symptoms. These methods may include medication, lifestyle changes, injections and therapy. There are multiple bulging disc therapy options, such as:
- Physical therapy — The goal of physical therapy is to restore function to the affected body part by establishing a management plan, which could include manual therapy, manipulation and exercises, among other techniques.
- Traction — Spinal traction is a form of decompression therapy that relieves pressure on the compressed discs and spine. During this form of therapy, the physical therapist will pull the vertebrae, allowing for increased blood flow into the affected area.
- Chiropractic therapy — Chiropractors look at the posture of the patient and use certain techniques to determine exact areas of misalignment. A chiropractic adjustment refers to a chiropractor applying manipulation to the vertebrae that have abnormal movement patterns or fail to function normally.
- Hot/cold therapy — Hot and cold therapy can increase the flexibility of tissues, decrease joint stiffness, reduce pain and reduce inflammation.
- Massage therapy — A massage therapist will apply manual techniques to increase blood flow, ease irritation and release pressure to the affected area.
Minimally invasive bulging disc therapy options
If bulging disc therapy fails to improve your bulging disc symptoms over the course of weeks of months, your condition is generally recognized as severe and you may need to consider surgery. However, this does not necessarily mean a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure which can involve overnight hospitalization followed by a lengthy and difficult recovery.
Minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice compared to traditional open spine surgery for treating conditions like a bulging disc. In a minimally invasive procedure, surgeons utilize small incisions and micro-instruments to remove the affected portion of the bulging disc while minimizing any trauma to the surrounding tissue. This technique results in fewer complications and a faster recovery.
If you would like more information about your bulging disc therapy options, contact your physician.