What Are the Symptoms of a Bulging Disc in the Back?


Quick Answer

The most common symptoms of a bulging or herniated disc in the lower back include back pain, numbness in the foot or leg, and leg or foot pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In some patients, the bulging disc does not cause symptoms.

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Full Answer

Nonsurgical options are the first course of action with bulging discs, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Treatments include the use of ice and heat, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and physical therapy. Some patients benefit from the injection of steroids into the spine to reduce inflammation.

While lower-back disc bulges are the most common, bulges also occur in the upper back. The symptoms depend on the joint in which the disc is bulging, according to Spine-health. A bulge between the C-4 and C-5 vertebrae affects the deltoid muscle, while one at the C-5 and C-6 joint affects the biceps.

While nonsurgical treatment is often effective, it takes time for the bulging disc to heal. If the injury is not better after six months of nonsurgical therapy, the doctor may suggest surgery. The outcomes of surgery are generally good, with the patient experiencing pain relief, reports the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. However, back surgery has risks. Before agreeing to the procedure, the patient and surgeon should discuss the best option for the condition.

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