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How to Heal a Bulging Disk

A bulging disc occurs when the cartilage between two of the spine’s vertebrae extends past the normal occupying space, describes Dr. Jerry Swanson of the Mayo Clinic 1. A bulging disc commonly occurs as a person ages and may or may not be associated with pain. Swanson visually describes a bulging disc to a hamburger with a large piece of meat---the meat part extends just a little past the bun. There is a key difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc. The herniated disc is torn, and the inside material of the disc is exposed. Non-invasive treatment methods are similar between a hernia and bulging disc.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Manage your pain using cold or hot therapy. Use cold therapy to treat pain; apply ice packs to decrease swelling. Place heat onto the pain area--an electrical blanket or warm compress works well. Consider massage therapy for relaxation and relief of pain symptoms. Remember, not all bulging discs are painful. Many people, both young and old have a bulging disc and have no physical signs or symptoms.

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Focus on centralizing the disc once pain is managed suggests physical therapist Doug Wallace, director of Rehab at the West Caldwell Care Center, in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Work with a physical therapist to determine what exercises would benefit the budging disc. Consider spinal extension or flexion exercises as well as a variety of stretching movements. Initiate strength and core training exercises while working with your physical therapist. Continue to practice learned exercise techniques at home. Only perform exercises you are properly trained in to avoid further injury.

Learn posture management as well as proper bending and lifting techniques. Practice good ergonomics when sitting, standing and bending to not exacerbate the bulging disc. Remember to hinge at your hips and bend at your knees when lifting items suggests University of California Los Angeles ergonomics website. Avoid slumping and back pain by sitting all the way back in a chair.


Treatment of a bulging disc may avoid the disc from rupturing. Though no pain is present, strengthening exercises and proper ergonomics are important to follow from the condition worsening.

Bulging discs are commonly found on the lower back area; the lower back receives the most amount of stress and pressure.