Not to be confused with herniated discs, bulging discs occur when the disc “bulges” out of its normal place between each vertebra. A bulging disc, often confirmed by an x-ray or MRI, is usually caused by age-related degeneration of the inter-vertebral disc. Treatment options for bulging discs can range from doctor-prescribed exercise to spine surgery in Los Angeles.
A physical therapy program is typically the first treatment recommended for a bulging disc that is causing light-to-moderate pain. A majority of patients report a noticeable decrease in symptoms within a relatively short period of time. Physical therapy treatments for bulging discs may include:
- Deep tissue massages
- Hot and cold therapies
- Hydrotherapy (relaxing in warm water, often with whirlpool action)
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (use of electrical current from a special machine to stimulate back muscles)
If pain from a bulging disc gets progressively worse, surgery is usually recommended. A surgeon typically performs either a laminotomy (partial removal of plates of bone known as the lamina) or a discectomy (removal of disc material that’s pressing on nerve roots).
A transthoracic decompression is performed when the bulging disc is located in the thoracic spine (the middle segment of the vertebral column) where a small opening is made in the side of the chest to remove part of the vertebral body and the affected disc.
Additional treatment options for bulging discs include, but are not limited to:
- Routine monitoring (in cases where the pain goes away on its own)
- Opiate pain medications (includes morphine and codeine)
- Doctor-approved exercises (that can be done individually at home)
- Video Assisted Thoracoscopy Surgery (a minimally invasive surgical procedure)
If the disc ruptures, it then becomes a herniated disc, which is more likely to be painful enough to require surgery. Treatment for a bulging disc ultimately depends on the location of the bulge and the degree of pain or discomfort.
If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc and are seeking treatment or a second opinion, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration today at 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation with one of our spinal specialists. We look forward to hearing from you.