Bulging discs are another common spinal injury that plagues thousands of people each day. As with any back and neck pain issues, bulging discs are painful and uncomfortable. They have the potential to greatly influence your life by restricting comfortable movement. However, you don’t have to live with unending back pain.
The experts at A Family Chiropractic Clinic want to help you relieve your pain. Our staff is trained in non-invasive techniques to help you find relief. Back pain shouldn’t control your life and we are standing by to help you fight back.
What Are Bulging Discs?
Many people mistake bulging discs for herniated discs. However, they are not the same condition. Herniated discs actually have ruptured and are leaking the soft middle of the spinal disc. A bulging disc has not ruptured and is not cracked. Instead, it is simply bulging out of its regular position. Bulging discs are more common than herniated discs and often less painful.
A bulging disc occurs when the spinal disc moves out of position. Spinal discs serve as the padding between vertebrae. They protect the vertebrae from grinding on each other during everyday movements. Occasionally these spinal discs will gradually shift over a long period of time. As it shifts, the soft interior begins to balloon at the weakest points of the outer casing. These discs are extremely vulnerable to rupture.
Bulging discs can press on nearby nerves causing pain, discomfort, tingling, and muscle weakness. This condition can occur anywhere in the spine but occurs most commonly in the neck and lower back. These areas of our spine tend to suffer more than the middle area of our spine due to the amount of stress they are subjected to on a regular basis.
Causes of Bulging Discs
Bulging discs can occur for a number of reasons. Age is one of the biggest contributors to this condition. The older we get, the less structurally sound our spinal column becomes. The discs in our spine deteriorate and dry out over time. This increases the likelihood of injury to our spinal discs. In addition to aging, there are other factors which accelerate disc deterioration.
Living a sedentary lifestyle can hasten the decline of our spines. Smoking is also a contributing factor to spinal deterioration. As our bodies naturally wear down the discs become more susceptible to problems. The distribution of weight around our spine also has a significant impact. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to maintain a healthy weight. It’s equally important to practice good posture to ensure the weight is distributed evenly. When we slouch and have bad posture then we are putting unnecessary strain on our backs and necks. Over time this weakens key muscles and increases the chances of injury.
Sometimes our activities can cause bulging discs. For example, if your day involves repetitive lifting, standing, or driving you could be at a higher risk. This is especially true if you regularly lift and carry heavy objects.
Symptoms of Bulging Discs
Age plays a significant role when it comes to increased risk for bulging discs. However, people of any age can be affected by this condition. When the disc bulges and presses on neighboring nerves you may experience a wide range of symptoms. These can include pain and numbness, as well as muscle weakness. However, the pain isn’t always local to the disc. Due to the nature of nerves, the pain, numbness, and muscle weakness that you experience could be in other places in your body. For example, if the sciatic nerve is subjected to pressure from a bulging disc then you may experience significant pain in one leg.
The pain you feel may start off light and worsen over time. It’s also common to feel as though the pain is coming from other areas in your body such as your abdomen or kidneys. Additional symptoms that many people experience include tingling, muscle spasms, difficulty moving, and radiating pain. In extreme cases you may have paralysis from the waist down or changes in bladder and bowel function. If these extreme symptoms occur you need to seek emergency medical care.
If you experience symptoms then you should seek medical care. Visit your chiropractor or doctor for evaluation. If your condition goes untreated you may experience a herniation of the disc. Whenever nerves are being compressed for long periods of time you also run the risk of suffering permanent nerve damage. Seeing a professional for a diagnosis and following a treatment plan are important to your long term health.
Diagnosing and Treating Bulging Discs
A chiropractor or medical doctor is able to diagnose bulging discs. Many people prefer to seek the care of a chiropractor because of their minimally invasive treatment techniques. It’s common for the practitioner to run diagnostic tests to evaluate your situation after your initial exam.
Often they will perform an x-ray to check on the health of your spine and look for any other conditions. They will then likely use an MRI to diagnose the bulging disc. Both of these tests are painless. If the MRI isn’t able to provide your care provider with the information they need then they may request a myelogram with a CT scan for more information.
Treating Bulging Discs
After your bulging disc has been diagnosed your healthcare provider will discuss treatment options. If you are seeing a chiropractor then they will likely suggest a series of spinal adjustments. These adjustments will help realign the spine to take pressure off the disc and ease your nerve pain. In some cases, your chiropractor may suggest incorporating physical therapy into your treatment plan.
Physical therapy when used in conjunction with chiropractic care helps your body heal more quickly. It also strengthens muscles in your back and abdominal region. These muscles should be strong to help support your spine. Strengthening these muscles will help lower your chances of another bulging disc in the future. The gentle combination of chiropractic care and physical therapy allows your body the opportunity to heal without the risk of back surgery. Many patients report a reduction of symptoms in a few weeks.