Bulging Disc

Bulging Disc treated by a top Pain Management Doctor in Rochester Hills, Michigan

A bulging of the disc (the cushioning located between two vertebrae) extends beyond the space it normally occupies within the spinal column. Typically, it is caused by disc degeneration, which is normal wear and tear of the individual discs. With the natural aging process, spinal discs lose a portion of the fluid that keeps them flexible.

Herniated discs can be caused by spinal injuries, which result in tiny cracks or tears in the outer disc layers. Jelly-like disc material can be forced out leading to bulging and rupturing of the discs. Sometimes, they can break of into tiny fragments.

Common Treatments for Bulging Discs

In the majority of cases, herniated and/or bulging disc treatments begin with nonsurgical interventions including the following:

  • Rest
  • Modification of normal activities of daily living.
  • Drug therapy to alleviate swelling and/or pain.
  • Back exercises
  • Physical therapy – Recommended in order to learn how to do back exercises properly and/or to receive back health education.
  • Traction – Continuous, gentle pulling of the head in order to stretch the neck. This action permits the small joints within the neck to spread apart which relieves pain and discomfort.

If a patient’s symptoms persist, stronger anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids may be recommended. Typically, symptoms will resolve over time. However if the affected disc is exerting excessive pressure on the spinal cord and the associated nerve roots, resulting in constant pain and/or weakness, a discectomy (surgical removal of the disc) is generally indicated.

Recent Research Finds Non-Surgical Therapy Helps Bulging Discs

This study was published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was conducted by Dartmouth Medical School examining various herniated disc treatments. Researchers found that non-surgical methods (physical therapy and/or pain relief medications) were almost as effective in the alleviation of chronic back pain as riskier, invasive surgical techniques.

Study participants were tracked for a period of two years after they were randomly selected to undergo either non-invasive treatments (back health education, physical therapy, and pain relief medications) or surgical intervention. The surgical technique utilized involved removal of a portion of the herniated disk. This was generally a standard type of surgery performed on an outpatient basis.

Study findings showed that participants from both study groups experienced improved pain measurement scores, improved physical functioning, and degrees of disability during periodic examinations. However, the observed differences between the two groups were not significant statistically speaking.

Resources:

mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk
spine-health.com/news/20100701/new-research-may-provide-explanation-back-pain-herniated-discs
webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cervical-disc-herniation-topic-overview
wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.27444

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