What Are the Treatments for Bulging Discs?

Updated April 17, 2017

Bulging discs occur when the small discs separating the individual vertebrae in the back become displaced. Although not always a major problem, bulging discs can cause significant pain and restriction of movement. What follows is a brief list of the most common treatment options for bulging discs.

Epidural Injections

Epidural injections are standard treatment options to relieve the pain and inflammation caused by bulging discs in the back. An epidural injection, which involves injecting a small amount of corticosteroid (usually cortisone) into the epidural joint spaces surrounding a bulging disc, can dramatically improve symptoms.

Pain Medication

Various types of pain medications, including muscle relaxants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and prescription-based opiates/narcotics, are available and widely used to treat the pain and irritation caused by bulging discs.

Activity Modification

Avoiding physical activities and/or movements that aggravate and/or irritate affected discs in the back is an effective treatment for managing the pain and discomfort caused by bulging discs. Normally, those movements/activities that require excessive back movement, such as bending, stooping and twisting, are best avoided.


Physiotherapy, which can include (among other things) modified exercise, acupuncture, acupressure, and electrical muscle stimulation, is often used to treat bulging discs in the back that have not ruptured. Physiotherapy treatment modalities can reduce pain and help to stabilise bulging discs.


In severe cases, bulging discs can be treated surgically. The most common form of surgical treatment is a discectomy, a procedure that involves removing the affected disc(s) through a small incision in the lower back. Discectomy is a highly invasive yet effective form of treatment for bulging discs.

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