Back problems are prevalent, and everyone goes through them at least once. A person can encounter different back problems, from mild trauma in the vertebral column to the compressed spinal nerve due to aging. One such case is bulging discs.
A bulging disc happens when a part of the disc nucleus pushes outside the annulus and enters the spinal canal through a rupture.
A recent study showed that about 20 cases of 1000 adults concern herniated discs yearly. A bulging disc in the back can result in a numbing sensation, often accompanied by intense back pain, varying degrees of immobility, and many more.
As a result, you must get the proper treatment for a bulging disc without fail. If detection is done early, good treatment can heal bulging discs efficiently.
Conservative Treatment Options
- Rest and Activity Modification
One of the best treatment processes for a bulging disc in the lower back is modifying your activity and resting time throughout the day. It needs to be done so that your mobility can improve with time while no more mechanical damage happens to your backbone and the associated muscles.
Additionally, the therapist must consider your current health condition to ensure the physical activity isn’t over stressing your muscles and bones. If that’s the case, the pain will spike up instead of getting alleviated.
- Physical Therapy
Physiotherapy or physical therapy is crucial for treating a bulging disc, especially if you must undergo surgery.
A physiotherapist uses various exercises and muscle and bone stimulations to increase mobility and coordination. Proper physiotherapy can reduce inflammation and also increase the chances of recovery.
Although long-term treatment for bulging discs is much more efficient than any other treatment, that could be one of the many reasons most doctors prefer the specific bulging disc treatment concept.
- Chiropractic Care
Also known as spinal disc decompression, chiropractic care stretches your spine gently while removing the pressure from bulging discs.
Chiropractic is a slow process as the doctors can only generate a little force or change the spinal positions simultaneously. Instead, they must do so in multiple settings, so your spinal alignment and curvature aren’t distorted.
As alteration of position and force on the herniated discs happens, they help release the pressure. With time, the compressive force on the spinal nerve reduces, providing you immense relief from pain and numbing sensations.
Acupuncture treats bulging discs in the lower back. In this process, a needle is inserted into various pressure points to release the tension. It is one of the ancient methods of healing back pain by restoring the energy flow lines.
Many people see acupuncture as a good treatment option because of its effectiveness.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Administering NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is a common practice for relieving the pain in your back due to herniated discs.
Since NSAID can often have several side effects, doctors ensure to administer it for a particular course only. You cannot take the medicines for a long time, which can cause gastritis, gastric ulcer, kidney problems, etc.
That is why doing proper tests is necessary before starting any NSAID as the doctor can know your body and propose medicines according to that.
Invasive Treatment Options
- Epidural Steroid Injections
An epidural steroid injection is very effective and feasible in treating bulging discs in the lower back. In this process, a mixture of steroid and anesthetic medicines are directly injected into the epidural space, which is nothing but the area surrounding the nerve roots and spinal cord in your lower back. It works in the following ways:
- Reducing inflammation around the nerve roots to alleviate pain
- Improving mobility in the lower back region
A doctor will only perform surgery for a herniated or bulging disc in the back if you try all other treatment options and no positive results are coming. Four major surgeries can be done to reduce the bulging of the vertical disc. These are
- Spinal fusion
- Artificial disc surgery
Certain risks are associated with these surgeries, like internal bleeding, nerve damage, infection, stiffness, numbness or temporary paralysis, and so on. That’s why consulting with the doctor and knowing more about the associated risks is imperative before the surgery.
Integrative Treatment Options
- Yoga and Stretching
Yoga and stretching exercises can quickly release the pressure from the herniated disc. Even if you have done surgery, you can use yoga to recover quickly.
When you get into various yoga poses, you involuntarily put different levels of force on the spine, easing the pressure build-up and compression of the spinal nerve.
- Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is one of the best processes for treating bulging discs in the lower back. An expert uses different massages to distribute the pressure build-up and alleviate pain. Everyone prefers massage as it gives a lot of relief from the pain and is not painful like other techniques.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, has a massive role in increasing the success rate of herniated disc treatment. When you have major surgery, your mindset can turn negative.
A therapist usually replaces the negative thoughts and energies surrounding you with optimism and positivity. Your mental health is related to your physical health.
If your thoughts are positive, it also positively affects the body. Good CBT can speed up the recovery process.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to prevent bulging discs in the lower back. You can reduce your body weight through proper dieting and physical activity to lower the pressure on the discs.
- Engaging in regular exercise
If you are physically active, the mobility of the vertebrae and the spinal discs increases. From walking to yoga, there are many ways in which you can stay active and prevent herniated or bulging discs.
- Proper posture and body mechanics
Our sedentary lifestyles have made us follow bad postures that have become a significant cause of bulging discs. Always follow an ergonomic lifestyle if you work continuously in the same position.
For example, stay in a different position for a long time. Always use ergonomic furniture that can help correct spinal alignment and movement.
- Proper lifting techniques
Sometimes, improper weight lifting can cause injury in the vertical disc, making it bulge out. So, try to avoid lifting any weight improperly. Always seek guidance from an expert while lifting weights or using any gym equipment.
Studies have shown that about 85% to 90% of patients with bulging discs in the back get relief without adequate treatment. So, you should follow proper activity, resting, and comprehensive care processes, like acupuncture, yoga, and massages.
If you are feeling any symptoms, connect with a medical professional to assess the condition of the bulging disc and know the proper treatment, like epidural steroid injection, NSAIDs, or surgery.