Every single one of us will be told we have a bulging disc at some point (or herniated disc). In fact, I got told that a few weeks ago, its annoying.
We are faaaaaaaar from being health professionals or doctors, so here are a bunch of things that help, that are not going to hurt.
What does it feel like
Annoyingly, many health care practitioners say acute intermittent pain, caused by a movement, is always a bulging or herniated disc. Its really weird that the diagnoses is done without MRI, but our understanding is, its so common and usual that its often first diagnosis.
For me, I was picking up a pack of screws that fell on the ground, and maybe after 30 seconds of bending over, my left side freaked out, and I fell down.
Step 1 - Hang Out
Spinal discs sit close, we smooosh em down squatting and deadlifting, giving yourself a spinal decompression seems pretty universal in the 'good' column. 3 out of 3 physios were good with this, all warned shoulders down, elbows fwd if you can dead hang for a long time.
This helped a lot.
Step 1.5 - get bored of just hanging and do a obsessive amount of lat pulldowns.
Step 2 - Dont faff too much - just hip flexors
This did my head in, as all people I saw had a variety of inputs when it came to stretching. Some said good, some said bad, basically - if you are likely to push your body into a position of pain again, you may start the process again.
The only thing that was universal was to stretch hip flexors
Step 3 - Do all the boring stuff we never do
I've been in powerlifting gyms my entire life, I don't think I've ever seen anyone do a cat/cow pose. You are on all fours, and slowly just work on cat (lower back sky) cow, belly button to floor.
Do that for a bunch of reps, then work on being able to do reps with only one hand on the floor.
Roll on your back and do some bridges.
Step 4 - Time
Today I was back to 'normal' and after a few weeks of hell, I always wonder if its just time, or all the hours of exercises, hanging and stretching.
In any event, any way you slice it, time is going to be part of the recipe.
On my math, two weeks of no weights, two weeks of light weights, then I'll write a program to get back to 'normal'. Having done the first of my two weeks of light, dang its boring, but age will teach you, better safe than sorry. I'd wager most people reading this have come back too hard too fast and got hurt.
2. Don't do a million stretches that may make it worse
3. Do cat cows and bridges to get mobility back
3. Be patient