In my experience, patients who are diagnosed with a bulging disc run the gamut—some have only a mild amount of pain, while others have pain so severe that it affects their ability to function. Many have symptoms for years and are able to manage the pain successfully.
A bulging disc is a type of spinal disc degeneration that can heal eventually; or, it could progress to a more advanced stage of degeneration (such as a herniated disc or a disc prolapse). If you’re experiencing this condition and are wondering how to heal a bulging disc naturally, there are conservative treatment options that don’t include surgery. But first, let’s take a step back and look at what a bulging disc really means.
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What is a bulging disc?
Discs are the material between pairs of vertebrae in your spine. They are designed for shock absorption and also create space between the vertebrae for nerves. Sometimes the outer layer of a disc gets weak, and the inner layers push out and bulge the outer rim of the disc. (It’s like squeezing a balloon that’s slowly losing air, with the top and bottom pushing out like a pouch). If the outer layer weakens enough, the nucleus of the disc may come out, or herniate, into the bulge or even break through the bulge and become a free-floating fragment. Ultimately, the herniation interferes with the surrounding nerves and manifests as any number of back issues, including pain, tingling, numbness, and even weakness. A bulging or herniated disc may occur as part of the natural degeneration caused by aging; it could also happen as the result of mechanical pressure—like bending or lifting improperly.
How To Heal A Bulging Disc Naturally
For people with a bulging disc, natural remedies are the best first step. (Surgery should be a last resort, except for an extremely small percentage of patients whose condition has progressed beyond a bulging disc and who are at greater risk for permanent damage. In that case, spinal injections or surgery are options.) For most people, there are several good natural remedies to choose from. Natural treatments for bulging discs include:
- No treatment. For some people, the pain is minimal. If that’s the case, it’s perfectly acceptable to let nature take its course and see if the condition heals over time.
- Medication. Anti-inflammatories may help reduce inflammation and muscle relaxers can address muscle spasms, both of which will help you manage the pain. Keep in mind, however, they won’t do anything to heal the bulging disc itself; the goal is to relieve pain while waiting to see if the disc heals itself.
- Chiropractic care or physical therapy. Doing exercises under the direction of a professional will help address the mechanical issues of the spine, including strengthening your core muscles, which gives your spine a stronger foundation. It promotes overall spinal health and helps ease pain at the same time.
- Yoga and acupuncture. Like the exercises mentioned above, yoga promotes spinal health and makes your spine more resilient, which may help prevent future occurrences. And while there’s no scientific evidence that acupuncture relieves back pain, it has been shown to be beneficial for many patients.
People with bulging discs have tried and benefitted from all of the above, but there isn’t one magic remedy that works for everyone. It’s up to you to decide what you’re willing to try. Approaching your spine care with an open mind, whether you have a bulging disc, herniated disc, or any other condition, will go a long way on the road to healing.