Published on September 19, 2022

What To Do When You Have A Bulging Disc

Bulging Disc

You have a bulging disc…or at least there is a pretty good chance you do.

Spinal degenerative changes, including bulging discs, are much more common than most people realize. In fact, robust research studies have shown bulging discs to be as common as occurring in 30 percent of asymptomatic 20-year-olds and 84 percent of asymptomatic 80-year-olds. Disc degenerative changes in general show up in about 37 percent of 20-year-olds and 96 percent of 80-year-old individuals. And in this case, we are talking about people who don’t even report significant back pain or symptoms.

Just because there is a disc bulge or spinal degenerative changes doesn’t mean it is causing pain. Generally speaking, nerves innervate only the very outer edge of the disc. As long as the disc bulge or protrusion is not too severe, it is likely that the disc itself is not the source of pain.

Often, advanced imaging is going to show “problems” or degenerative issues but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s something that is going to require invasive care, or that these degenerative issues are even abnormal. Many of these degenerative changes are just part of normal aging. Your body generally does a pretty good job of healing itself as long as you provide the right environment for that to happen. That means avoiding harmful activities like smoking and obesity, and adapting a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercises. If you have areas of mobility restriction or weakness, address these to ensure you are moving freely and with good stability during daily activities. Discs have been shown to heal with conservative care if things are handled properly, allowing the immune response of your body to do its job.

Dave Bearss, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., T.P.I., is a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He sees patients at the Campus Ridge Building, located on the campus of MyMichigan Medical Center Midland. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (989) 837-9100.

MyMichigan’s WellSpine program is your go-to place if you are experiencing pain, numbness, weakness or limited range of motion in your spine, back or neck. Our team of experts in Rehabilitation Services, Spine & Pain, Behavioral Health and Neurosurgery work together to customize your plan of care and streamline triage and referral to ensure you are seen without delay.