A bulging disc is a common disorder in your vertebral column, also known as the backbone or spine. The spinal column is the interconnected bones from the back of your neck to your lower back. The spinal or inter-vertebral disc lies between the adjacent vertebrae in the spinal column. It acts as a ligament that holds the vertebrae together while allowing movement at each spinal level. They play a crucial role in absorbing shock of our spine.
A bulging disc, also referred to as slipped disc or protruding disc, involves the soft matter inside the disc. It is characterized by the soft nucleus putting pressure against the tougher exterior, causing the disc itself to put pressure on the nerves in the spinal column.
Causes of a Bulging Disc
A bulging disc is typically due to a pre-existing weakness or a tear on the fibers due to a sudden increase in pressure through the disc. Poor posture is one of the most common causes of a bulging disc. Improper posture while standing, walking, sitting or even sleeping can cause pressure to your spine that could eventually lead to a bulging disc. Avoid remaining in one position for a long period of time. Use a pillow to support your lower back and between the knees to ease pressure. Those simple and easy-to-do habits in our posture promote a healthy spine.
Sudden unexpected load to your spine can also cause disc injury. Carrying heavy objects put pressure on our spine and could lead to back injury if not done properly. You should be aware of the proper lifting techniques to avoid unnecessary strain on your spine. Use your leg muscles and do not rely on your arms and back to lift heavy objects. Do not attempt to lift by bending forward and avoid twisting your body while lifting. When lifting objects, squat down to your load by bending your hips and knees, keeping the object close to your body, and straighten your legs to lift.
Deterioration of vertebrae or the decline in the fluid content may also be due to our body’s natural aging process. In other words, it can be considered a normal part of aging. Some disc begin to swell as we age. Bulging disc are also considered to have a genetic predisposition, but this is a minor contributing factor in disc disorders. Other factors that play a role are, excessive abdominal fats, poor strength in the lower limbs and core, and of course, one's occupation.
Though a bulging disc can remain asymptomatic for quite some time, they can cause discomfort and severe pain. A bulging disc is suspected when your back pain is aggravated by lifting objects, bending forward, and even coughing, sneezing, or sitting.
Losing motor skills, having trouble walking, pain in the chest, lower and upper back pain spreading to the thighs and feet are the most common symptoms of bulging disc. It is the swelling of the disc situated between the spinal vertebrae. The pain in bulging disc may start slowly but get worse over time.
Upper Back Symptoms
Pain or paralysis in legs
Difficulty having bowel movements
Paralysis from the waist down
Uncertainty of leg movements
Cervical Spine Symptoms
Severe pain in shoulder blade
Difficulty in moving the neck
Extreme pain in arms, hands and fingers
What Should We Do?
It is important to take action immediately if you suspect that you have a bulging disc. This is to prevent disc rupture and further damage in the body. We should take it with a serious thought especially if the symptoms persist and worsen.
The good news is that most minor and bulging disc injuries can be treated without undergoing surgery. Spinal decompression helps relieve the pain by stretching the spine using a traction device. This physical therapy may relieve pressure on the nerve.
To find out if spinal decompression therapy is right for you, please call our Charlotte chiropractor today for a consultation.