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What is Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc results when an intervertebral disc, which serves as a cushion between the vertebrae, loses its typical shape and compresses a spinal nerve.

Bulging discs (also called “protruding discs”) have undergone changes in their shape and structural integrity that can lead to spine pain or other problems. Unlike herniated discs, bulging discs have not broken through their outer shell-like casing. Sometimes, a bulging disc and a bone spur occur at the same time. This condition is known as disc osteophyte complex.

what is a bulging disc

Symptoms of Bulging Disc

In most cases, bulging discs appear at the rear and side portions of the affected disc, and can put abnormal pressure on the nerve below the disc, causing a range of pain types. In severe cases, you may experience heaviness in your legs and/or difficulty walking. More common symptoms are:

    Common symptoms of Bulging Disc include:
  • In the lumbar spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet
  • In the cervical spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the neck, arms, hands, and sometimes in the head
  • In the thoracic spine (less common): pain in the upper back, radiating through the stomach or chest, which patients often confuse for cardiovascular problems

Prior to having a surgical procedure to treat your bulging discs, conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and steroid injections should be attempted. If these measures do not meaningfully relieve your pain, a North American Spine procedure may be in order.

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Causes of Bulging Disc

Bulging discs occur when pressure on a spinal disc damages or breaks down the once healthy disc, causing it to compress or change its normal shape. Potential causes of this pressure include:

    Additional common Bulging Disc causes include:
  • Age-related wear and tear, which can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Back or neck strain due to repetitive physical activity, poor posture, imbalances in the musculature, or heavy lifting
  • Direct physical injury such as a car accident or fall
  • Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents

In some cases, damage only affects the inner layers of the disc’s outer covering and leaves the inside of the disc intact—this describes a bulging disc. In other cases, the outside of the disc tears and the disc’s inner gel-like substance leaks out into the surrounding spaces in the spinal column—this describes a herniated disc.

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Bulging Disc Testimonial

Marsha J.

Condition: Bulging Disc

Procedure: IntelliSpineSM (Lumbar)

Hometown: Tyler, TX

“The procedure was 100% successful.”

“I was blown away by the results. A 180 degree change. Pain was gone and only mild ache on day of surgery. No longer required pain medications and able to sit without pain for the first time in 4 months. I am thrilled and believe the procedure was 100% successful to accomplish what was expected.”

Connect With A Patient

Some of our former patients have been kind enough to offer to speak with back and neck pain sufferers who are looking into treatment options. We encourage you to take them up on it! After we determine a treatment plan, we’ll connect you with a past patient who had a similar condition and procedure.

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