The intervertebral discs are the cushions between the bones in the spine. They have a tough, fibrous outer layer and a gel-like inner layer, which help the spine move correctly. A bulging disc occurs when the outer part of the disc becomes weak, and the disc extends out past its normal borders within the joint structure. This is part of the normal aging process, and usually does not cause pain. If, however, the disc spreads out far enough to put pressTMJure on a nearby nerve, the condition can cause pain.
Symptoms and Causes
In the lower back, a bulging disc can cause pain in the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet. In the upper back, pain can radiate from the neck to the shoulders, down the arm and to the fingers. You may also experience tingling, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, or numbness. Some physical activities, such as bending, sneezing, and coughing may make the symptoms worse.
The primary cause of a bulging disc is the weakening of the outer layer of the intervertebral disc due to age. However, lifting heavy objects, being above a healthy weight, and living a sedentary lifestyle can all increase the chances of a painful bulging disc, and other back problems.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor will carry out a physical exam to try to determine the source of your pain. He is likely to order an MRI to be able to visualize the disc.
Cold, then hot compresses