A bulging disc is usually considered a normal part of aging and is not necessarily a sign that anything serious is happening to the spine. Intervertebral discs most likely begin to bulge as a part of both the aging process and the degeneration process.

Approximately 90% of bulging discs occur in the lower back, or lumbar area of the spine.

A bulging disc is a fairly common occurrence in both young adults and older people. Rest assured, they are not cause for panic. As the disc protrudes out between the vertebrae and presses on a nerve, you will experience symptoms in whatever part of your body the affected nerve serves. Symptoms of a bulging disc may include pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. In some situations, a bulging disc will press against your spinal cord. When this occurs, your symptoms may include:


  • Pain in your upper arm, forearm, and possibly your fingers
  • Pain moving your neck
  • Deep pain near or over your shoulder blade


  • Muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs
  • Increased reflexes in the legs that can cause spasms
  • Changes in bladder or bowel function
  • Possible paralysis below the waist
Bulging disc pain may start slowly and get worse over time or appear during certain activities.
A bulging disc doesn’t necessarily mean that you will need to undergo surgery.

Since most bulging discs are mild to moderate and resolve on their own within a few weeks, treatment typically begins conservatively. Some patients choose to explore treatments that are considered to be complementary or alternative. Therapies, such as chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and spinal decompression therapy can also be effective for alleviating bulging disc symptoms.

Conservative treatment options for a bulging disc include:

Avoiding any lifting or activities that might strain the neck or back

A limited period of rest

Weight loss and lifestyle changes

Ice packs

Heating pads and warm showers

Stretching to give the spine more flexibility and take pressure off pinched nerves

A targeted exercise regimen designed by a physical therapist

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications

Epidural steroid (cortisone) injections

After attempting some of the above treatments over the course of several weeks or months without relief from troublesome symptoms like pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling, some physicians might recommend surgery to alleviate the nerve compression in your spine.

As an alternative to surgery, some doctors will utilize the regenerative properties of adult stem cells. Click below to find out how.