How Do You Treat a Bulging Disk?

Updated March 21, 2017

Treating a bulging disk depends on the location of the bulge and the severity of pain, limitations or other symptoms. The disks are comprised of a soft gel encased in a cartilage shell to act as a cushion between the spinal vertebrae. As these disks weaken, they can move out of alignment with the spine, causing the disk to bulge and press on nearby nerves. Nerve impingement causes pain to travel to other locations in the body such as the hips, legs and feet and prompting surrounding muscles to spasm in reaction to the injury. Bulging disks can be contributed to the ageing process, and many people have a bulging disk without feeling any discomfort.

Rest the body. Allow the body to heal itself with a couple of days bed rest. Use a heating pad to keep the muscles relaxed, and do not perform any activities that strain the back, such as bending or lifting. Be careful how you carry the body such as walking down stairs. Sometimes back pain can throw off your balance, so hold onto those handrails.

Take Curcumin supplements 3 times a day with food to prevent inflammation from forming in the injured area. Stay away from nerve stimulants such as caffeine and inflammation-promoting foods such as dairy products. Drink plenty of water to flush the body of toxins.

Use an over-the-counter pain reliever or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to reduce pain and swelling, such as those containing naproxen or acetaminophen like Motrin or Aleve. If pain is severe, consult a doctor for a muscle relaxer that you may use for a short period until the bulge subsides.

Apply a cold and hot gel to the area to reduce swelling. These gels go on cold then turn hot once absorbed into the skin. Rubbing lavender oil on the area or applying a flannel cloth soaked with castor oil also helps to reduce inflammation.

Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes followed by a heating pad for the same time. If surrounding muscles start to spasm remove the ice immediately.

Get physiotherapy treatments such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation and gentle exercise to help ease the disk back into place and strengthen the smaller supportive back muscles. Physical therapists can also teach you exercises to improve posture and the correct ways to bend and lift to prevent future damage to disks.

Things You'll Need

  • Heating pad
  • Ice pack
  • Curcumin supplements
  • Naproxen or acetaminophen
  • Lavender oil
  • Castor oil and flannel cloth
  • Hot and cold gel
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About the Author

Based in Washington’s Puget Sound area, Suzanne Geller has written about software, health and business since 1987. Her articles have appeared in “Entertainment News NW,” “Synergy for Success” and various trade publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University at Northridge.