A bulging disc occurs when a disc in the spine protrudes and puts pressure on a nerve, causing mild to severe pain. There are a variety of options for bulging disc treatment, depending on the severity of the problem. If the bulging disc results from an injury, acute pain can be treated by applying ice and heat and taking medication. As the initial injury heals and a person is able to resume normal function, options to relieve the spinal compression that causes a bulging disc may include chiropractic manipulation or physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be an option for a bulging disc.
Many people with bulging discs experience periods of acute pain that get better with treatment, but the injury can reoccur at different times. Initial pain from this type of injury can be relieved in some cases by applying ice, heat, or a combination of the two. Most of the time, it's best to use ice for about 20 minutes each time for the first two or three days after the injury. After that, ice and heat can be alternated. Anti-inflammatory pain medications, steroids, and muscle relaxers can also help to relieve pain and restore mobility. Many times, these methods can resolve acute pain and help restore normal functioning.
After an acute injury is resolved, other types of bulging disc treatment can be used to reduce the spinal compression that causes the condition. Chiropractic treatments such as spinal adjustment and traction, or gentle stretching of the spine, can be effective options. Physical therapy can help in similar ways and also may incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises, biofeedback, and ultrasound treatments. Low impact exercises such as walking or swimming can also be effective for bulging disc treatment.
People whose bulging disc pain persists after other types of treatment may decide to have surgery. There are numerous surgical bulging disc treatments, but most focus on either reducing the size of the disc or increasing the amount of space in the spine to relieve pressure on the nerves. In very serious cases of chronic pain, surgery can block or remove pain signals from the affected nerves. Some surgical procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, but others may require a period of hospitalization. While surgery can help with severe disc injuries, it is not always effective, and full recovery can take several months. In addition, people who have had surgery may not regain all the mobility they previously had.