There are numerous bulging disc treatments available, but before exploring which one may be right for you, it helps to learn more about your condition. A bulging disc is a fairly common degenerative spine condition, happening when a weakened or damaged spinal disc bulges of its normal radius. Many people do not realize they have a bulging disc and sometimes the disc can even heal on its own. However, when a bulging disc bulges enough to cause narrowing of the spinal canal and nerve compression, it can result in severe pain and other symptoms.
The aging process is the most common reason why a disc will bulge. Over time, our spinal discs experience wear and tear from regular use and can dry out. This wear and tear and dehydration can weaken the discs making them more susceptible to degeneration and bulging. A disc may also bulge following a traumatic back injury or be a result of lifestyle, like a physically demanding job.
The bulging disc treatments that work best for you will depend on the location of your bulging disc and the severity of the pain and symptoms.
Bulging disc nonsurgical treatments
The primary goals of nonsurgical, or conservative, bulging disc treatments are to provide you with pain relief and return to a normal activity without invasive measures. A wide variety of nonsurgical treatment options are available, but here are a few of some of the most common bulging disc treatments:
- Rest, followed by gradual exercises
- Pain medications
- Chiropractic/osteopathic manipulations
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
Bulging disc surgical treatments
If nonsurgical treatments do not relieve the pain from your bulging discs after at least a few weeks, your physician may recommend surgical treatment. The primary goal of surgery is to decompress the affected nerve by removing all or part of the disc. The two main surgery options for a bulging disc are traditional open spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery.
While both options accomplish the same goal, minimally invasive spine surgery is often the safer and more effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery includes both decompression and stabilization procedures that use small incisions to remove the affected portion of the disc that has bulged out of place. Due to the much smaller incisions, these procedures avoid cutting muscle and creating scar tissue.
Minimally invasive spine surgery is also usually performed on an outpatient basis and does not require the lengthy recovery associated with traditional open spine surgery.
To learn more about bulging disc treatments and which one may be right for you, schedule a consultation with your physician.