While not as serious as a herniated disk, bulging discs can cause distress and discomfort. Bulging discs occur from the vertebral disc bulging into the spinal canal area. This can cause compression of some of the nerves in the area during the process. As you age, this tends to happen naturally and often display no symptoms and need no treatment. However, when the bulging disk causes pain, you need different treatments that can be done either from a doctor or home remedies. While surgery is needed in rare occasions, treatment for bulging disc in neck also includes it like many other diseases.
How to Treat Bulging Disc in Neck
Cut back on intestinal activity. It is highly important to slow down when you suffer from neck pain. You want to get plenty of rest in a position that causes you the least amount of pain. Try supporting your neck with a rolled towel or pillow to keep your neck in neutral position. You do not want to stay completely immobile while you are resting, because getting no physical activity can do more harm than good. You want to slow down but not stop your daily activity. Take part in activities that you feel comfortable doing and gradually increase how much you do as the pain begins to decrease.
Cold or hot compression. For most injuries, it is recommended to alternate cold and hot compresses to the areas for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling and relieve pain. For bulging disc, this method isn't always effective since the injury is much deeper below the surface. Instead, you want to use whichever compress feels best for you. Leave the compress on for 20 minutes, and leave the compress off for 40 minutes. And then repeat again.
Stretching exercises. Once you have been cleared by your doctor, you want to do a few light stretches to help reduce pain and improve the flexibility in your neck. Some stretching exercises to use as a treatment for bulging disc in neck include:
Turn your head slowly to the left, use your left hand to apply a pressure to the chin to turn it just a little more. Hold the position for 20 seconds, repeat this process to the right side.
Try touching your left ear to your shoulder by tilting your head to the left. Use your left hand to apply a light pressure at the temple to tilt the head more. Hold this position for 20 seconds, repeat on the other side.
Try to touch your chin to your chest. Keep the shoulders relaxed as you bend your head forward and hold the position for 20 seconds.
Lay down on your back using a pillow to support your head and neck. Keep your knees bent and nod your head forward, and hold for 10 seconds. Relax your head and repeat this 10 times.
Light exercise. You want to aim to get in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in each day. You can incorporate weights or resistance bands to help strengthen your muscles while also getting the blood flowing. Always consult your doctor first before beginning to exercise as they can better guide you towards the exercise that will work best for you.
Improve your posture. Your neck pain can intensify when you have bad posture. You want to try to keep your head and neck straight when sitting, standing or when lifting objects. It is important that your back remains support through each of these processes.
Consider Physical Therapy
Seeing a physical therapist is another treatment for bulging disc in neck. When at home treatments are not working, a physical therapist or even chiropractor can help show you various stretches, ways, and postures that will focus on strengthening the muscle of the neck while also improving the range of motion. They will also take the time to evaluate what else can be contributing to your pain such as joint function and neck strength. Some of the treatment methods a physical therapist or chiropractor will use include hot and cold application, electrical stimulation, deep tissue massage, and they may perform an ultrasound before having you do some exercises. With a chiropractor, subtle adjustments can be made to help relieve pain and restore your neck to its proper function. By manipulation the joints, you will feel a relief in joint stiffness which can increase range of mobility and an improvement to the overall mobility of the neck.
It is always best to discuss visiting a physical therapist or chiropractor with your doctor first to determine if this will improve your condition or potentially make it worse.
Sometimes medications are necessary to help deal with pain and decrease inflammation. There are several medications that can be taken as an addition to any other treatment for bulging disc in neck you may be using. Steroids, pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication are the most common prescribe drugs to help with neck pain and include:
Tylenol or Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is one of the first medications people think to take to help with pain and is one of the most common over the counter medications taken. While it can help reduce pain, you should only take as directed. Be aware that taking acetaminophen in excess can cause liver damage and taking this medication with alcohol consumption increase this danger. Acetaminophen is also common in a number of other over the counter drugs and you should not take Tylenol if you are taking any other drug that contains acetaminophen as well to avoid over consuming this drug.
NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen and Naproxen such as Motrin, Advil, and Aleve, help reduce the inflammation caused by bulging discs as well as reducing the pain from it. These medications are also commonly found over the counter but, like Acetaminophen, should be taken as directed. Taking too much NSAIDs can cause serious complication like ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and damage to the liver and kidneys. When taken over extended periods of time, you increase your chances of suffering from heart attack and stroke. Always talk to your doctor first before taking any type of NSAIDs.
Steroids. This kind of medications reduces inflammation. You can take it orally or by injection to the neck which you can see quick result. However, pay attention to its side effects like headache, bleeding and infection. Oral steroids may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, etc.
When the pain worsens significantly, you may have to resort to surgery as an effective treatment for bulging disc in neck. Some surgery options include:
ACDF. Anterior cervical discectomy and spinal fusion is one of the more common surgeries. It involves removing the disc through a small incision and then fusing the disk space together with itself or with a plate.
Posterior cervical discectomy surgery. This surgery can be more difficult to perform because of the veins located in the area can cause excess bleeding which impairs the visualization during the surgery. With this surgery, there is more manipulation done to the spine.
Cervical artificial disc replacement surgery. This surgery is similar to ACDF where the disc is removed through a small incision at the front of the neck and then placing an artificial disc in its place. This goal of this surgery is to mimic the function of the original disc that was removed.