Bulging Disc Spine Information and Treatment Options:
A bulging disc is a common condition that can sometimes cause arm, neck and shoulder pain. While not always a condition that needs treatment, there are times when medication and sometimes surgery will be necessary to alleviate symptoms. Like a herniated disc, a bulging disc in the spine can be treated with cost-effective and minimally-invasive surgical procedures.
What is a Bulging Disc?
A bulging disc in the spine is, simply put, a disc that has bulged outside of the space it is meant to occupy but has not ruptured. This condition usually occurs in the lower back or neck and is a result of deteriorated or weakened discs swelling through a crevice in the spine.
Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc
Patients often ask what the difference is between a bulging disc vs a herniated disc. The two conditions have similarities, but their defining traits are very different.
While a bulging disc can be a nuisance, it doesn’t necessarily cause pain, where a herniated disc does in most cases. The difference lies in the actual effect the condition has on the disc. A bulging disc is still contained and may swell out of place and cause pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord, but a herniated disc has cracked and ruptured, causing back and neck pain, as well as pain radiating down the arms or legs. Sometimes, a bulging disc can inevitably rupture and become a herniated disc over time.
What causes a bulging disc?
Bulging discs are a common part of the aging process, along with degeneration of the discs in the spine. Doctors view this condition as common and will likely not see it as a reason for concern.
It is only when the bulging disc in the spine causes an issue, sometimes referred to as segmental spinal stenosis, that treatment may be needed. Segmental spinal stenosis is a result of the bulging disc causing a narrowing in the spinal canal. Sometimes the presence of bone spurs on the facet joints behind the offending disc can cause foraminal stenosis as well. Injury to the discs due to overuse may also cause weakening in the disc. Smoking can also weaken and deteriorate cervical, thoracic, and lumbar discs.
What are the symptoms of a bulging disc?
Similar to a herniated disc, the symptoms that occur with a bulging disc may not be severe, but they can be disruptive, depending on their placement. Commonly, they can cause pain, weakness, tingling and numbness in areas that the affected nerves serve if the bulging disc presses against your nerve spinal cord.
Symptoms that could occur if the disc is in the thoracic and lumbar spine include:
- Muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in the lower extremities
- Bowel and bladder behavior changes
- In worse cases, paralysis from the waist down may occur
If the bulging disc is in the cervical spine:
- Deep neck and shoulder pain
- Radiating neck and arm pain that could extend to the fingers and hands
- Weakness in arm or shoulder muscles
Treatment for a bulging disc
Most of the time, medication, physical therapy or simply waiting for the symptoms to subside are enough to manage a bulging disc in the spine.But, there are other instances when typical bulging disc treatments fail and do not successfully manage the pain after months of undergoing treatment. This is where surgery may become a viable option for you and your family. Discuss this matter with your physician, understand the options available involving surgical treatment. Contact spinal experts, like Axis Brain and Back, to get enough information to make your educated decision.
Axis provides groundbreaking treatment options for patients suffering from bulging disc pain including minimally invasive back surgery. With a 98% recommendation rate, Axis has proven to be an excellent option for issues concerning the cervical spine and lumbar region. We offer the most advanced treatment options to reduce recovery time, leave a smaller incision, and overall provide a safer route than open back surgery.