Treatment for Bulging Disc
The first thing many people think of when they hear the words, “bulging disc,” is the word, “surgery.” Many people do not realize that in a large number of cases involving bulging—or herniated—discs, the afflicted person has no symptoms, painful or otherwise. And even for the people who do feel symptoms initially, the condition will often get better on its own, without treatment of any kind.
If conditions do persist or worsen, treatment for bulging disc can range from oral pain medication (usually an NSAID) and physical therapy to steroids and potentially life-threatening surgery. For this reason, it is a good idea to try the simplest ideas first. If possible, start with things like therapeutic exercises and a healthy diet. If you smoke cigarettes, cut down the amount you smoke, or, ideally, quit smoking altogether.
The pain medication used as treatment for bulging disc has many health risks associated with it, especially if it is used for long periods of time. Doctors recommend using pain medication only when you must, and ideally as a way of easing the pain associated with physical therapy and allowing therapy to be more productive.
If the pain associated with your bulging disc persists despite a doctor-recommended physical therapy routine and the use of pain medication, you should not continue to rely on medication. If your back is not healing naturally, there are steroids your doctor can prescribe for you. These range in form from pills taken orally to epidural injections. Again, it is a good idea to try your simpler options first.
Generally, after the options of steroids and other medications have been exhausted, the next recommended treatment for bulging disc is surgery. As is the case with the drugs available for treating this condition, the existing surgical procedures are widely varied and take approaches that range from relieving pressure between the vertebrae by removing tissue to dissolving the same tissue with a process called chemonucleolysis. Some newer surgeries even involve replacing the bulging disc with an artificial one.
However, if you and your doctor have decided that surgery is right for you, it is best to keep in mind that, in deciding on a surgical treatment for bulging disc, simpler is not always better. While the simplest option may seem to be cutting out the offending tissue, there are far less invasive surgeries that make better options for many people, like the IDET (Intradiscal Electrothermal Annuloplasty).
Surgeries and other treatments for herniated discs can be very expensive, and it is best to keep this fact in mind when your doctor proposes a treatment for this condition. Do not let yourself be scared by the words “bulging disc” until you know your condition is not going to heal itself anytime soon. Just remind yourself of words like “intradiscal annuloplasty” and “chemonucleolysis,” and see if you find your pain any more easily manageable.
Keep in mind that ultimately the healthiest way to heal your injury is by getting the recommended levels of exercise and giving your body the nutrients it needs to make the repairs you are stimulating in the process. Avoid exercises that involve heavy lifting or require you to bend and twist your back simultaneously. Exercises that involve balance are ideal. And make sure to get plenty of sleep as well.