MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: What is a Bulging Disc and How is it corrected by surgery?

Date: Thu Mar 18 16:13:11 1999
Posted By: kathi clement, faculty md, family practice, Univ. of Wyoming
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 921155960.Me

A disc is a gelatinous type material that the body has between the 
vertebrae.  This is a cushion to help with all the day to day type 
activities, that may stretch, twist and jar the  spine.  When a disc 
bulges, obviously you lose that cushioning effect and nerves which come out 
of the spine can be pinched.  The symptoms can vary from where the disc is 
located from the neck down.  Pain is one of the main symptoms, also 
numbness, sometimes bowel or bladder function changes also.  Some 
symptoms(like the bowel or bladder problems) are more worrisome and need 
immediate surgery to decompress the nerve, where as other symptoms can by 
treated conservatively with anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, 
ibuprofen, physical therapy, and even moist heat.  There are several types 
of surgery much of which is more dependent on your own symptoms and where 
the disc is located.  That maybe something you need to specifically address 
to your own doctor.  

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