A bulging disc occurs when a degenerative disc between 2 vertebral bodies becomes compressed and “bulges” away from its original position. Bulging disks differ from herniated disks in that a disc herniation occurs when softer interior disc material herniates through cracks in the outer disc layers, whereas a bulging disc occurs when the entire disc degenerates and becomes displaced to some degree from its original position. Bulging disks become a problem when they impinge upon the delicate neural elements such as the spinal cord, or nerve roots. Pain from a bulging disc can occur when the disc puts pressure on nerves or when the disc becomes chronically inflamed.
The discs between our vertebrae contain fluid that cushions the discs and helps hold them in place. As we age, we lose some of the fluid, which allows the discs to move out of position. While a bulging disc can occur at any point on the spine, they are more commonly seen in the lower back (lumbar region).
Bulging discs can also be caused by trauma or injury, such as in a car accident, by illness or infection, or by conditions like arthritis.
Symptoms of a bulging disc include:
- Tingling in the legs or buttocks
- Arm or leg weakness
- Pain in the neck, arms, or lower back
- Numbness in the limbs
Treatment for Bulging Disc
Initial treatment for bulging discs usually includes ice packs or heating pads, resting the affected area, and pain medications like anti-inflammatories. Treatment often includes physical therapy, which will focus on exercises to strengthen your back.
In some cases, spinal injections of steroids may be recommended to relieve pain. This may be followed by physical therapy that aims to strengthen her core muscles.
In other cases, a bulging disc may require surgery. Surgical intervention may be performed in an effort to decompress the nerves or to remove the offending disc. If an entire disc is removed, an interbody fusion procedure must follow. In some cases, an artificial disc replacement may also be performed. Your healthcare team can determine the best option to treat your specific condition.
At Princeton Neurological Surgery, Dr. Lipani is a board certified fellowship trained spine surgeon in New Jersey who performs minimally invasive spine surgery as well as complex spinal procedures. Dr. Lipani is a specialist in the treatment for bulging disc and many other spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, low back pain, neck pain, spinal tumors, spinal cancer and more. Dr. Lipani treats patients from around the world, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey including locally from Princeton, New Brunswick, Hopewell, Pennington and communities throughout Somerset, Middlesex, Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Mercer Counties for bulging disc. Dr. Lipani offers image guided spine surgery approaches for bulging disc treatment, tailored to the needs of each patient. For state-of-the-art bulging disc treatment, call or email us to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations in Hamilton or Bridgewater New Jersey!