What Is A Bulging Disc?
At least 90 percent of people over the age of 30 have at least one episode of back pain, and most of this pain is the result of a disc problem. Disc issues fall into three common conditions: disc bulges, disc herniations, and spinal stenosis. We explain what a bulging disc is and how it occurs.
Our spinal column is made up of stacked vertebral bones. Soft cartilage discs in our back are positioned between the vertebrae to cushion them as we flex and move. Each disc has a skin of tough outer cartilage that is shaped to fit precisely between the vertebrae it cushions. As we age, our discs may lose their shape and begin to protrude beyond their proper position. We refer to these protruding discs as a bulging disc.
They can occur anywhere along the spine from the neck to the lower back. Although bulging discs are common and frequently painless, this condition can become uncomfortable when the extending disc becomes irritated, or when the bulge presses against a nerve in the spine.
Pain from a bulging disc can be challenging to diagnose because you don’t always experience pain at the source of the problem. A bulging disc in the neck can cause headache, as well as numbness or pins-and-needles discomfort and pain in the neck, face, shoulders, arms, and hands. When the bulging disc is located in the lower back, symptoms can include numbness, a pins-and-needles feeling, or weakness in the leg.
Bulging disc treatment options
In many cases, symptoms resolve within six to 12 weeks. Summit Orthopedics is home to the area’s top spine specialists for bulging disc treatment. A diagnosis of bulging disc can usually be addressed with conservative nonsurgical treatment focused on reducing disc irritation. Our spine specialists work with you to correct your posture and strengthen your core—and may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs as necessary. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained spine surgeons are here to consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options.
More resources for you
Learn about whether you need medical evaluation if your legs give out.
Dr. Choi identifies bruised spine symptoms that require medical evaluation.
Ask the Expert: Running Video Series