Non-Surgical Treatments for a Bulging Disc

Non-Surgical Treatments for a Bulging Disc

A bulging disc refers to a condition in which an intervertebral disc protrudes or bulges out of its place, from between the vertebrae. This can press upon a surrounding nerve roots and result in pain. Intervertebral discs are gel-filled pads that act like shock absorbers, allowing movement and flexibility in the spine.

There are three different types of disc problems:

·         Disc protrusion: Outer wall of the disc remains intact, and the disc protrudes 180 degrees or less of the disc’s circumference

·         Bulging Disc: Outer wall of the disc remains intact, and the disc protrudes more than 180 degrees of the disc’s circumference

·         Herniated disc: Outer wall of the disc bulging disc tears and allows the inner contents to escape

Most disc injuries occur in the lumbar or lower spine since the lower back bears most of the impact of daily movements.

Causes of a Bulging Disc

As spinal discs absorb the daily wear and tear, they start to degenerate and become weak. This happens most frequently in the lower back.

Another common cause of bulging disc is degenerative disc disease which can result in spinal osteoarthritis. Other factors that can cause bulging discs are –

  • strain or injury
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • poor posture
  • inactivity

Treatment for a Bulging Disc

A wide range of non-surgical treatments are available for a bulging disc. The specific treatment largely depends on the severity of the pain and other factors, such as the nature of the symptoms and the age of the patient.

Non-invasive conservative treatments often begin with medication and physical therapy. Treatments include:

  • Medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed for a bulging disc. For more severe pain, prescription medication may be given.
  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist can prescribe postures and exercises to relieve the pain of a bulging disc by relieving pressure on the nerve.
  • Limiting bed rest. Excessive rest can cause stiff joints and weak muscles, which can prevent recovery.
  • Braces and support devices. Such devices can help by providing stability to help reduce pain.
  • Injections and nerve blocks. Epidural steroid injections and nerve blocks can provide longer-term relief, as the medicine is directly injected into the area around the spinal nerves.
  •  Stem Cell Therapy. Harvesting and re-injecting the body’s own stem cells into the site of damage may help to naturally repair worn-out discs.

If non-surgical treatments fail to provide pain relief after 12 weeks of use, and the pain is severe, surgery may be an option.


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