Bulging disc in the lower back

Sometimes called a protruding, ruptured or bulging disc, the herniated disc condition is an issue that can happen anywhere in the spine. Pain in the lower back is commonly caused by a bulging disc. Sciatica or leg pain is also caused by a bulging disc.

At some point in their lives, around 60% to 80% of people will experience pain in the lower back. Some of these people with a herniated disc will suffer from leg and back pain.


Risk Factors


The risk of acquiring a herniated disc is increased by several factors, to include:


Rapid degeneration happens to the disc caused by the reduced oxygen supply brought by smoking.

Straining of the spine caused by repetitive activities

There are a lot of physically demanding jobs. Some require repetitive twisting, lifting, bending or pulling. One way to help protect your back is to use safe movement and lifting techniques.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A herniated disc is one of the medical conditions that can be prevented with regular exercise.


A herniated disc is likely to affect men aged 20 and 50.

Driving for long stretches

Driving for long stretches means remaining seated for long periods. Prolonged seating and the vibration caused by the engine of the vehicle puts extra pressure on your spine.


The discs of the lower back are subjected to more stress when a person is overweight.

Incorrect Lifting

Lifting heavy objects using your back instead of your legs can cause a herniated disc. Your back also becomes vulnerable when you twist as you lift. One way to protect your spine is to lift with the legs and not the back.


Bulging Disc Symptoms


The first symptom of a herniated disc is a pain in the lower back. This pain may improve after a few days. Other bulging disc symptoms could include:

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control. Though extremely rare, being affected this way indicates a more serious medical condition called equina syndrome. The compression of the spinal’s nerve roots is the chief cause for this condition. Immediate medical attention is required.
  • Sciatica is a shooting or sharp pain down the back of one leg radiating upward to the buttock. Pressure on the nerve of the spine causes this condition.
  • Tingling or a numbing sensation in the foot and/or leg
  • Weakness in the foot and/or leg


Bulging Disc Treatment


For most people, a period of several days and weeks will usually reduce the pain felt in the lower back. By 3 to 4 months, most of these people become symptom-free. However, there are people that still experience pain episodes.

The common treatment applied to a herniated disc is nonsurgical, to include:

Bed rest

Leg and back pain is usually relieved with a day to 2 days of bed rest. However, staying off your feet for longer periods is not recommended either. Try to do the following activities when you’re up on your feet:

  • Don’t sit for long periods
  • Controlled and slow physical activity only especially lifting and bending forward


Pain can be helped by medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen.

Specific Exercises

Strengthening the abdominal muscles and lower back are helped by some specific exercises recommended by a physiotherapist.


The disc has a 5% to 10% chance of becoming herniated despite undergoing nonsurgical or surgical treatment. It has been seen that opting for early surgery ensures more improvement in function and pain. An orthopedic surgeon will help you with the treatment for a bulging disc.




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