01 Apr April Email Newsletter
Bulging Disc Symptoms, Causes and Treatments Options
A bulging disc is a medical condition that is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone has discs between their vertebrae that provide cushioning, otherwise bone would rub directly against another bone. Think of them as the spine’s shock absorbers. Bulging discs occur when these discs “bulge” out of their usual alignment. It could be caused by a disc that was weakened from a former injury or a sudden pressure on the disc. Some people are genetically predisposed to weak or bulging discs.
Bulging discs are sometimes called a slipped disc or protruding disc, but unless the disc actually gets removed from the annulus, it’s technically a bulging disc. The annulus is the tougher “shell” of the disc. (And if it comes out entirely? That’s a herniated disc). The annulus might get slightly cracked with a bulging disc, but there’s a big—and painful—difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc. However, both can be debilitating. The annulus has a lot of fibrocartilaginous fibers that protect the glycoprotein, which is the softer, jelly-like inside of the disc.
A bulging disc can range in severity, from so mild that the patient doesn’t even realize they have an issue to extremely painful. When the annulus is damaged, the disc walls are weakened. The soft inside of the disc can press against all of the disc walls, and this is what causes that “bulge.” In some cases, the bulge also presses against nerves, which can cause pain signals to be sent to the brain. It’s important to get bulging discs treated immediately because they can easily become herniated discs. Bulging discs can also lead to radiculopathy (commonly known as sciatica) in the neck or back, another painful condition. Herniated discs are much more difficult and invasive to treat than bulging discs. Even if a patient doesn’t have back pain, cramps, shooting pain to the legs or arms, numbness, or spasms, bulging discs can still cause problems. These are the most common bulging disc symptoms, and you might also notice pain while sitting, lifting, bending forward, or coughing and sneezing.
There are four alternative treatments that have shown to be very effective for many bulging disc patients. This includes:
- An epidural injection, which helps decrease inflammation around the disc and nerve, but also stops the pain messages between the body and brain. It can help when complementary or future additional treatments are scheduled.
- Spinal cord stimulation is also an immediate pain reliever, and also works by blocking pain signals.
At Integrated Pain Consultants, we offer the latest treatment in pain management for bulging discs and other injuries. Learn more and book a detailed evaluation today if you struggle with chronic or acute pain.
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