Question: Alternative treatments for bulging disc?

I have had debilitating lower back pain for two years. My MRI indicates I have bulging discs. My doctor recommended exercise, but that has not helped.

What are some alternatives to keep my discs from bulging?

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Doctor’s Response: For a bulging disc, treatments include surgery, medications, physical therapy

Bulging discs in and of themselves are not necessarily painful. 30-60% of patients with no pain can have the finding of an asymptomatic bulging disc on their MRI scan. The MRI scan is not necessarily diagnostic as to what is the cause of your pain. The more accurate the diagnosis you receive the better your treatment plan will be.

Depending on what is causing your pain, there are various treatment options. Consult a spine specialist, such as an orthopedic spine surgeon or a physiatrist. Treatment options for conditions such as degenerative disc disease may include medications, physical therapy, manipulation (e.g. by a chiropractor), injections, and occasionally, surgery or other invasive procedures.

Your doctor is right in that exercise is an important component of your rehabilitation in almost all cases of back pain. However, doing the right exercises the right way is essential. I usually recommend working with an appropriately trained physical therapist to develop a home exercise program.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.