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Is a bulging disc the cause of your back pain? Laser Spine Institute can diagnose and treat it at our Tampa surgery center

A bulging disc is a spinal disc that weakens due to the stress of vertebral compression and expands into the spinal canal, possibly impacting a nerve in the canal and resulting in chronic, radiating pain.

Bulging disc causes

Often, a bulging disc is caused by the natural degeneration of the spine. As we age, the discs in our spine begin to shrink in size and deteriorate, causing the disc to become weaker and more fragile. When the inner fluid of the disc begins to dry and shrink, the outer layer of the disc has to bear the stress of supporting the surrounding vertebrae in the spine. This increased stress on the outer layer of the disc can cause the disc to herniate or bulge. When the disc bulges, it runs the risk of pressing into the surrounding areas of the spinal column. This can cause the spinal cord or surrounding nerves to become compressed, causing increased pain and symptoms.

Bulging disc diagnosis

If you suspect you are suffering from a bulging disc, promptly schedule an appointment with your physician in order to determine the cause of your pain and begin a course of treatment that can help improve your quality of life. In order to do this, your physician will generally discuss with you your symptoms and medical history. Then, he or she may conduct a series of physical tests to gain a better understanding of your reflexes and muscle strength. Finally, you may be asked to get an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to confirm your bulging disc diagnosis.

Bulging disc symptoms

Though bulging discs alone are not symptomatic, the disc may expand into the spinal canal and compress a nerve root next to the spine. If this happens, chronic pain and other symptoms often occur. These other symptoms can include:

  • Radiating tingling into arms or legs
  • Radiating numbness into arms or legs
  • Localized pain
  • Shooting pain
  • Inability to sit or stand without pain
  • Experiencing discomfort while sleeping
  • Burning sensation
  • Muscular weakness

If you are suffering from these symptoms, you understand the devastating impact a bulging disc can have on your quality of life. That is why Laser Spine Institute is committed to offering minimally invasive procedures to treat a bulging disc. Our minimally invasive procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery,^ which means that our patients can experience the best care possible in one of our world-class outpatient surgery centers.

Conservative and alternative treatments for a bulging disc

The first step to treat a bulging disc is often to undergo several months of conservative, nonsurgical treatment to find pain relief. These treatments may consist of one or more of the following:

  • An initial period of rest
  • Medication, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication or muscle relaxants
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Low-impact exercise
  • Stretching
  • Any necessary lifestyle changes, such as weight loss

Additionally, many patients with a bulging disc have achieved relief through the use of alternative treatments, such as yoga, Pilates, chiropractic manipulation and massage. Despite the success some patients have had, alternative treatment is not widely accepted among physicians. You should talk to your doctor about these treatments before beginning any new therapy.

Bulging disc surgery available through Laser Spine Institute

Once conservative options have been fully attempted, if you are still experiencing chronic pain and symptoms, surgery may be the best option for you. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to the traditional open spine surgery for a bulging disc. These procedures include:

  • Foraminotomy. The portion of the bulging disc that is restricting the exit of the foramen is removed to free the nerves exiting the spinal cord.
  • Laminotomy. A portion of the lamina is removed in order to release the pressure that is being placed on the spinal cord.
  • Discectomy. During this procedure, the portion of the bulging disc that is causing the irritation is removed.
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF). During this procedure, the Laser Spine Institute surgeon removes the bulging disc and increases stability by fusing the surrounding area.
  • Cervical disc replacement. The bulging disc is removed and replaced with an artificial disc.
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The bulging disc is removed and a bone graft and space are inserted into the space to increase the surrounding height.
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion. The bulging disc is removed as the adjacent vertebrae are fused and space is added to the disc area.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for more information regarding our bulging disc procedures performed at our Tampa center and to get a review of your MRI or CT scan at no cost* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.