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Bulging Disc Syndrome


A common cause of pain, bulging disc syndrome is an often-misunderstood condition that can negatively affect your quality of life if symptoms persist long-term. By identifying signs of this syndrome, you can begin to work toward symptom improvements and management of pain. Below is an overview of bulging disc causes and treatment options available to sufferers of this condition.

Bulging Disc Syndrome Symptoms

Numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities are often the result of referred pain originating from the spine. Depending upon the location of the herniation, you might experience pain in your legs or your arms. Lower back disc issues can result in pain that radiates down your leg, through your thigh and calf, and sometimes as far as your foot. In contrast, pain that radiates to your shoulder and down your arm can be the result of a bulging disc in the cervical spine. The possibility of a bulging disc should be considered if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Pain. You might experience shooting pain that radiates down the arm or leg and may change with position.
  • Weakness. You might have difficulty lifting items if the nerve radiating to your arm has been compromised, or might experience stumbling if your leg is affected.
  • Numbness. Tingling or numbness in your arm or leg radiating downward can be the result of a compressed nerve.

Bulging Disc Syndrome Causes

In contrast to a common belief that pain originating in the spine is typically the result of injury, bulging disc syndrome is often the result of normal wear and tear of discs as you age. With time, it is common to experience dehydration in the center of your discs, leading to less pliable discs that no longer fit comfortably inside the vertebrae. This, in itself, does not cause pain, but when the emerging disc places pressure on the nearby nerve, the result can be inflammation at the root of the nerve, leading to pain or signal interruption all along the path of the nerve. The process of age-related wear and tear on spinal discs is referred to as disc degeneration. Symptoms of disc degeneration can vary from no symptoms at all to life-altering chronic pain.

Bulging Disc Syndrome Treatments

Bulging disc syndrome can be diagnosed through a variety of techniques including imaging, nerve tests, and physical exams that study reflexes and muscle strength. Once an accurate diagnosis has been determined, many patients find relief by first trying conservative treatment options. Conservative treatment options include:

  • Pain management
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Cortisone injections
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Physical Therapy

Some patients can also find additional relief through a customized exercise plan or by trying alternative medicine options such as chiropractic care, yoga, massage therapy, or acupuncture. Rarely, none of these methods are successful, and the patient will need to explore surgical intervention options.

Bulging Disc Syndrome Risk Factors

Although bulging disc syndrome can occur in any individual, certain characteristics or lifestyle choices can lead to extra stress on the discs. Some common risk factors that can lead to a greater chance of developing disc generation and bulging discs include genetics, excess weight, and daily physical demands. An inherited predisposition can play a factor in the likelihood of developing this condition. However, discs in your back can be susceptible to added stress caused by excess body weight. Additionally, individuals with occupations that involve repetitive motions or excessive physical demands may be at elevated risk for bulging discs.

Even though genetics cannot be controlled, the risk for bulging discs can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, participating in regular exercise and trying to remain aware of your posture. However, if you are already experiencing chronic symptoms of this syndrome, your quality of life can be improved through comprehensive and customized pain management services, such as Superior Pain Relief.


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