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Bulging Disc in Back

A bulging disc in back can create pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord and trigger pain. Caused due to various factors, this can be quite a distressing condition, which may hamper daily activities...
A bulging disc, which is also known as contained spinal disorder in medical parlance, is a condition that is related to the lower back region or the lumbar. Bulging disc in back occurs when a disc in the spinal cord protrudes through an opening in the spinal cord. This condition is characterized by a bulge in the intervertebral disc in the spinal canal and loss of water in the nucleus pulposus. Though a protruding disc in the back is more common during old age as a result of wear and tear of the spinal muscles, it can also occur due to an injury, trauma or pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord. This can cause inflammation to the intervertebral discs of the spine and may also cause irreparable damage if timely treatment is not provided.

Bulging Disc in the Back: Symptoms

The symptoms of bulging disc may vary according to the location and type of tissue in the spinal cord. However, some of the bulging disc symptoms which may help in the diagnosis of this specific condition are given below:
  • One of the most common and prevalent symptoms of bulging disc is experiencing acute lower back pain, if the lumbar region is affected. This back pain tends to radiate to other regions of the body where the nerves have been affected. These symptoms of sciatica usually occur on one side of the body and the individual may also experience numbness caused due to extreme pain.
  • Another symptom of this painful condition is neck pain, which may occur due to pinched nerves. The individual may experience a tingling sensation in the neck and may find it painful to move the neck sideways. Some of the symptoms of pinched nerve in the neck include a shooting pain in the neck which may be exacerbated during movements, weakness in the limbs due to bulging disc in the neck and burning sensation in the disc joints.
  • An individual suffering from a bulging disc in the back may show the inability to bend or straighten the spine without triggering extreme pain. This pain may also be a symptom of the inflammation of the nerves.
  • Cauda equina syndrome is a rare condition and is also one of the symptoms of a bulging disc. This syndrome, is caused due to compressed nerves in the spinal cord. Other complications of this emergency condition, which may result in permanent damage of the nerves if not treated in time, are loss of bladder and bowel functioning. A person suffering from this rare disorder may also complain of weakness or a feeling of numbness in the lower back region and the legs. Sometimes this condition can also cause weakness in the arms, depending on where the bulging disc is located
Bulging Disc in Back: Treatment

Obese people and individuals who lift heavy objects are at a higher risk of getting a bulging disc, since a constant pressure is applied to the vertebrae as a result of weight and heavy work. This pressure may also lead to a slipped disk. In many cases, a bulging disc does not always trigger pain and may be noticed only when the individual may have to go for a routine X-ray or any other tests. Bulging disc treatment depends on the location of the protruding disc and the severity of the condition. The initial treatment may include rest and application of cold or hot compresses on the affected region to ease the pain. If the condition is severe and the pain is unbearable, then bulging disc treatment options may include painkillers, anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen, and corticosteroid injections to relieve the pain.

Apart from these medications, there are also a few exercises, massage and physical therapy which may strengthen the weak disc and to speed the healing process. However a word of caution, these exercises must be practiced only under the supervision of a physical therapist to avoid aggravation of this condition.

A bulging disc in back can be a very discomforting condition which can hamper the daily activities. It is always better to consult an orthopedic who may diagnose the condition accurately and provide appropriate medication to avoid the condition from becoming worse.
By Marlene Alphonse
Published: 7/19/2010
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