Bulging disc is a disorder related with spinal cord in particular the lumbar disk that bulges through the crevice of spine. Disks are nothing but soft gel like substance that is responsible for cushioning the spine when it bends or stretches. When the disk gets shifted from its normal radius this condition is said to be a bulging disc. This condition is quite common in old age people wherein the disk stretches too far to bulge.
Bulging disc is different from that of herniated disc that occurs suddenly when the spine is subjected to accident or trauma. But bulging disc is the condition acquired slowly as a process which may not cause any pain.
Very often, this problem would be diagnosed when the patient comes with another nerve problem which requires MRI scan. Bulging disc is not a problem at all unless the person feels the pain. In severe cases, it can be treated by cortisone injection and anti-inflammatory medicines.
How the disc bulges ? (Or) Causes for bulging disc :
Lumbar spine also called as lower back portion includes many bones each one of them being separated by a disc. In this disc you can find several strong tissues wrapped on one another sandwiched by gel like substance to give flexibility. In case there is continuous wear and tear in the connective tissue it will cause the jelly substance to protrude from the disc which is known as bulging disc.
Three actions typically cause a disc to bulge. The process of bending, sitting and lifting can cause a disc to bulge selectively. As said earlier, it does not occur all on a sudden and the tear on the connective tissue may progress slowly finally causing the disc to bulge.
As one grows old, the disc is subjected to continuous wear and tear due to prolonged act of bending and twisting.
Who are at risk ?
People who are above 50 are at risk of getting bulging disc and very often the lower most disc L5/S1 is affected when compared with the discs located above.
There may be moderate to intense pain on the lower back region and the pain will progress when the person indulges in bending or lifting action. The intense pain will be felt on the central part of the lower back accompanied with stiffness.
The person will feet sharp pain in the mornings and for some people the pain will radiate down to legs and buttocks or thighs. In addition there may be numbness in certain areas of feet. For some there can be pins and needles sensation on the back and the affected person may not be able to stand erect. The pain would grow as one involves in lifting any heavy object or after prolonged hours of sitting. Some persons will experience pain when sneezing and coughing.
Morning pain in the lower back is the best indicator for lumbar disc bulge.
Physical examination and X-ray will help your doctor to identify the problem.
For mild bulging disc physiotherapy is given to massage the tissue inside. Some people are put on traction for getting relief from symptoms. Your doctor may ask you to modify your daily activities for gradually improving the lumbar disc.
For moderate pain, it can be managed through effective therapies like ultrasound therapy and cortisone injection.
Before choosing the surgical option, your doctor may try doing implantable infusion pumps on the affected area or give analgesic pain patches. He may also do electrical nerve stimulation for improving the condition.
Bulging disc surgery is done depending on factors like age and health condition of the person.