What is a bulging disc in the lower back?

 A bulging disc in the lower back is a bulging disc that happens anywhere from the waist to the top of the hips in the lumbar region of the spine. A disc is considered a bulging disc if the tough outer layer of the disc is protruding out of the normal space between the vertebrae and into the spinal canal. Symptoms of a bulging disc in the lower back can be experienced in any of the following areas of the body:

  • Lower back
  • Pelvic region
  • Buttocks
  • Legs
  • Feet

Symptoms include numbness, muscle weakness, pins-and-needles sensations, localized pain, radiating pain, sciatica, muscle spasms and tingling.

A bulging disc in the lower back is the most common type of bulging disc. The lumbar region of the spine supports the majority of the body’s weight and endures significant wear and tear over time. Additionally, the lower spine can be easily injured during heavy lifting if the correct techniques are not used. This area of the body is also susceptible to injury from falls, car accidents and sporting impact.

What are the treatment options for a bulging disc in the lower back?

Treatment for a bulging disc in the lower back usually starts with a combination of conservative treatment options. Conservative treatment options for a bulging disc in the lower back include:

  • Rest
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Activity modification
  • Lifestyle modification

If symptoms do not subside over time with conservative treatments, the next option to consider is bulging disc surgery. Bulging disc surgery can be performed as traditional open spine surgery or as minimally invasive spine surgery. Minimally invasive spine surgery avoids unnecessary disruption to surrounding muscles and soft tissues and is performed as an outpatient procedure compared to traditional open spine surgery, which requires severing surrounding muscles and a two- to five-day hospital stay. For most people though, conservative treatment options are able to control the symptoms of a bulging disc in the lower back and surgery is reserved as a treatment of last resort.