Doctor insights on:
Personal consult: An in-person evaluation would be needed to provide you with information about what treatment option is best for you.
Physical therapy: Okay to ask your doc why she was not a surgery candidate. Okay to ask for physical therapy, it can be helpful. Be well and good luck.
Bulging disks: Bulging discs in the lumbar spine can be a potential source of low back pain. The tough, outer covering of the disc space (annulus fibrosus) contains nociceptive pain fibers -- when the annulus is irritated or torn, low back pain can result. The first line of treatment is oral nsaids (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc). I would also recommend a dedicated pt program focused on core strengthening.
Abnormal appearance: A bulging disc refers to an intervertebral disc that has extended past its original footprint, so to speak, and may be pushing up against the nerves. The bulge may involve the firm rind (annulus), or the watery disc material in the middle of the disc (nucleus pulpous). The bulge may cause a lot of pain, weakness, or numbness, or none at all.
MRI: The best test to evaluate the disks of the spine is an MRI of the cervical (neck) thoracic (mid back) or lumbar (low back) spine. Your gp can order the appropriate study and make referral to a specialist as needed.
" bulging disk": Initial treatment for symptomatic bulging disc is conservative (eg physical therapy, non-opioid analgesics, etc.) and also addresses preventative measures. Depending on severity of the symptoms, injections for pain control may be utilized. For more severe cases, surgery may be indicated. The course of treatment is determined by symptoms and objective findings.See 1 more doctor answer
Yes!: Most lumbar disc herniations tend to heal on their own. Anti-inflammatory medication and traction type of therapy often helps to relieve the pain. The herniated disc often takes up to 3 months to heal. Seek medical attention if there is progressive pain, inability to walk, numbness, weakness, or any changes with bowel/bladder function.See 1 more doctor answer
Minimal process: Wear and tear can cause degeneration in the vertebral column, and cause discs to deteriorate. The supportive basket, nucleus fibrosis develops small tears. A bulge is minimal perhaps a few millimeters, and is clinically insignificant, but additional disc displacement such as protrusion or herniation may compress nerve or spinal cord.See 1 more doctor answer
Do they hurt?: The mere fact of 3 bulging discs (or 2 or 5) means nothing. What is important is how the condition affects your well-being. I have plenty of patients with terrible looking MRI scans who have no pain and function very well. On the other hand it is not at all unusual to see a person whose scan looks quite normal, yet is in incapacitating pain.
Hard to tell: Bulging discs are a normal part of aging. They can happen spontaneously or as a result of injury. Particularly between your late 20s and 50s you are become more susceptible to disc issues.See 1 more doctor answer
Variable: Some people are completely asymptomatic from disc bulges. Some people experience profound pain (radiculitis) and motor and sensory loss (radiculopathy). Back pain is variable as well but usually affects people with acute herniated discs due to annular tears and chemical secretion.See 1 more doctor answer
Hard to say: "mild" bulge would be based on how the disc looks on mri. This has nothing to do with whether or not the disc is painful. In fact, having disc bulges is normal as we age. However, a bulging disc can be painful. So, if you have back pain and a bulge they might (or might not) be related. If no pain, then no big deal. If needed, best to discuss with non-surgical spine specialist.See 1 more doctor answer
I do not know: However surgery certainly last resort and maybe not even indicated for bulge. Try therapy and or meds
Variable: In many cases the problem can resolve, but the more severe the discomfort, the more likely you will need treatment. Subsequent mris over several years have demonstrated resolution of some disc herniations.
There are risks: There are significant risks associated with back surgery such as nerve damage, infection, bleeding, need for more surgery. The anesthesia also has risks. Fortunately, the risks for bad things happening are very low. You need to have honest discussion with your surgeon about the risks so that you're ok doing an elective procedure, or not.See 1 more doctor answer