Pregnancy With a Bulging Disc

It is common for women to experience back pain during pregnancy because of the added weight and stress on the spine and pelvis. Women who suffer from a bulging disc and become pregnant may find their lower back pain increases and requires additional treatment.


A bulging disc, also referred to as a herniated, protruding or ruptured disc, occurs as discs degenerate and weaken, causing cartilage to be pushed into the space that contains the spinal cord, causing pain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 1. Bulging discs occur most often in the lower spinal column.


A bulging disc may be asymptomatic, leaving the sufferer unaware of the condition, while others may experience pain or numbness in the buttock and down the leg. The added weight and spinal stress during pregnancy can worsen a bulging disc and the pain associated with it, according to


Traditional diagnostic testing for a bulging disc, such as X-ray, discography, CAT scan, bone scan or MRI, is not recommended during pregnancy. A health care professional will conduct a thorough medical history, examine the back, as well as conduct blood tests or ultrasound scanning to determine the cause of the pain.


Treatment for a pregnant woman with a bulging disc is dependent upon the severity of the condition and current stage of pregnancy. It may consist of one to two days of bed rest; moderate exercise, such as swimming, walking or yoga; an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen; or the pain reliever acetaminophen. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies, such as chiropractic care and massage, may also be beneficial.


Women who are pregnant should work to maintain correct posture throughout their pregnancy and avoid exercises or movements that jolt or strain the body or back. Additionally, pregnant women should wear comfortable shoes, sleep on their side on a firm mattress, participate in low-impact aerobic exercise and should not lift heavy objects.


Pregnant women with a bulging disc should notify their anaesthesiologist of their condition before receiving spinal anaesthesia or an epidural. Documentation, such as ultrasound scans or medical reports, should be given to the anaesthesiologist to assist with placement of the epidural before childbirth.