A disc bulge is a type of disc herniation that occurs when part of the spinal disc bulges out and can occur in any area of the spine. In other words, the disc bulges out and extends beyond the space that it normally occupies. The bulge can then rupture that specific disc of the spine, which will lead to a disc herniation or disc protrusion.
Causes of Disc Bulge
Similar to other disc degenerative conditions, a disc bulge is usually caused by age progression, in which our bodies begin to suffer spinal deterioration from wear and tear over time. Other causes include obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise; thus, it is important to maintain or regain a healthy lifestyle. Individuals who smoke cigarettes are also more susceptible to sustaining a disc bulge.
Symptoms of Disc Bulge
Unlike a disc herniation, a disc bulge may go unnoticed until the bulge ruptures into the canal of the spine. However, when a rupture occurs, an individual may experience a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms depend on the location and the protrusion length of the bulge, which signifies the severity as well. Below is a list of symptoms associated with a disc bulge:
• Pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the neck and upper extremities.
• Pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the back and lower extremities.
• Radiating pain into the chest or stomach.
• Loss of bladder or bowel control in severe cases, which will necessitate emergency medical care.
Treatments of Disc Bulge
Treatment of a disc bulge is remarkably similar to other degenerative disc conditions. Physicians will first review the medical history and perform physical examinations as necessary to determine the severity of the condition. Then, diagnostic studies, such as X-Rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans and/or computer tomography (CT) scans will be performed in order to properly diagnose the condition and determine its severity. From then on, the physician or spine specialist will recommend treatment for the disc bulge, such as medications for the pain, exercises, stretches and physical therapy. Epidural injections may also be recommended and in severe cases, surgery may be considered.