Bulging Disc: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
The spinal column is made of stacked vertebral bones and soft cartilage discs which are positioned between the vertebrae to cushion them as we move. The discs are composed of an outer layer of tough cartilage that surrounds the softer cartilage in the center which makes them flexible. As we age, our discs will start to dehydrate, lose shape, and will shift. As the discs lose shape, they begin to protrude out of the proper position. This protruding disc is also known as a bulging disc or disc protrusion. Usually, there is little to no pain associated with a bulging disc, but they can cause pressure on nearby nerves that can lead to discomfort and chronic pain.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bulging Disc?
Symptoms can occur anywhere along the spine from the neck to the lower back. Even though many bulging discs do not cause any discomfort, the bulging disc can become uncomfortable if the disc becomes irritated or if the bulge presses against a nerve. A bulging disc in the cervical area may cause pain or tingling in the neck, shoulders, hands, face or fingers. A bulging disc in the lower back area may cause muscle spasms, lower back pain, numbness or weakness of the leg. A thoracic bulging disc may cause pain in the upper back that radiates to the chest or stomach. You may also experience a reduced range of motion. The severity of the symptoms will depend on how much pressure there is on the nerve.
What Causes A Bulging Disc?
The most common cause of a bulging disc is age. As we age, the discs can ware down and shift. Degenerative Disc Disease may also be a cause for a bulging disc. Degenerative Disc Disease refers to symptoms of back or neck pain caused by the deterioration and breakdown of a spinal disc, normally an age related condition. An injury or trauma can cause a bulging disc (herniated disc) such as a car accident or sports injury. Bad posture is another cause which can result from sitting, standing, driving, or working for long periods of time.
How Is A Bulging Disc Treated?
There are a variety of treatments for a bulging disc ranging from rest to surgery. Many treatments will start simply with rest, ice/heat treatments, over the counter medication, and physical therapy. Steroid injections may be used to help bring down the swelling and relieve pain. Surgery is also an option when other treatments are not effective.
If you are experience a bulging disc, call LA Health Solutions at 844-496-LAHS (5247) and schedule and appointment.