Herniated or Bulging Discs
Age, trauma, or accidents can cause damage to your discs, the gel-like pads that cushion your vertebrae. When they get damaged, the result can be painful pressure on your back. We have years of experience diagnosing back pain issues that include herniated and bulging discs. Our comprehensive approach provides a wealth of options for treating the cause of your back pain and helping you heal. We can find the cause of your discomfort and create a treatment plan to bring you back to health.
What are Herniated or Bulging Discs?
Your vertebrae have half-inch thick discs between them that are filled with a gel-like fluid. Age or injury can cause the fluid in these discs to push against or even out of the outer membrane. When this happens, it leads to inflammation and pain. Herniated or bulging discs can happen between any vertebrae, but they are most common in your lower back. You may also hear these conditions referred to as "slipping a disc."
Symptoms of Herniated or Bulging Discs
Pain in the area of the bulging or herniated disc is the most common symptom. You may also experience numbness, pain, or weakness that radiates down your legs as far as your feet when the affected disc is in your lower back. The pain may also radiate down from the affected area in to the hips and buttocks. People who experience herniated discs in their necks or upper backs may experience neck pain or headaches. The pain from a bulging or herniated disc may last for several days and suddenly improve.
What Causes Herniated or Bulging Discs?
The most common cause of herniated and bulging discs is the degeneration that comes with age. As we get older, our discs lose hydration, which makes them more susceptible to irritation and damage.
It is possible to suffer a bulging or herniated disc as a result of stress from athletic activity such as weight lifting.
Daily activity at work or in your personal life can contribute to your chances of developing herniated or bulging discs. Repetitive movements, especially those that involve twisting or bending, can put pressure on your discs. Poor posture or spending long periods of time seated are also associated with herniated discs.
How Herniated or Bulging Discs are Diagnosed
Your doctor will look at your medical history and perform a physical exam to see if you are suffering from a bulging or herniated disc. In some cases, diagnostic tests may be performed to detect which disc is causing painful symptoms.
Contrast scans, CT scans, and MRIs can all be used in the diagnosis of bulging or herniated discs.
If your doctor finds multiple herniated discs in your back, a discogram may be performed. This test, which involves injecting dye into a herniated disc, can outline tears that are leading to pain.
Treatments for Herniated or Bulging Discs
Herniated and bulging discs often resolve on their own without intervention. Our healthcare team can help you with treatments to limit your pain during recovery.
Doctors recommend rest during healing, with occasional short walks to reduce pain and stillness. For many patients, over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen can help with pain and inflammation. Prescription medication may be used to combat pain.
If your herniated disc is not healing quickly enough, your doctor may wish to use medical treatments to ease pain and speed healing. Common treatments for herniated or bulging discs include:
- Epidural steroids. These injections into the epidural layer of the spine can speed healing.
- Spinal cord stimulation. This treatment uses electrical stimulation to block pain signals between the brain and the area around the herniated disc. It can be a good approach when there is too much inflammation for other treatments.
- Chiropractic treatment. Adjustments can be a helpful part of pain management when healing from a herniated disc.
- Massage. Massage can help relieve muscle tension that contributes to the pain of a herniated or bulging disc.
Request a Consultation
Are you suffering from pain that could be caused by a bulging or herniated disc? Gulf Coast Pain Institute can help. Make an appointment today to learn more about your treatment options and the best way to get back to your active life.