How Serious Is A Bulging Disc
Unlike a herniated disc, where the inner nucleus actually pushes through a tear in the outer annulus, a bulging disc happens when the entire disc changes shape and protrudes outward, into the spinal canal, but the annulus is still intact, and the nucleus remains inside the annulus.
As the disc is invading the space within the spinal canal, it can compress a nerve and cause a variety of issues felt throughout the body.
How serious a bulging disc is will depend on the degree of nerve involvement, location and severity of the bulging disc, not to mention other important variables such as patient age and overall health.
Common causes of a bulging disc are degenerative disc disease, poor lifestyle habits such as repeatedly lifting heavy objects with the back muscles, rather than the leg muscles, chronic poor posture, and carrying excess weight.
If a bulging disc is left untreated and worsens, it can easily become a herniated disc, so part of the focus of treatment for a bulging disc is to prevent it from becoming herniated.
So once a person is diagnosed with a bulging disc, what bulging disc treatment options are there?
So How Can I Get Rid Of Disc Pain And Disc Problems
Glad you asked. The answer to this question will depend on how much pain your herniated disc is causing you and how far the disc has herniated into the area surrounding the spine.
No one wants to be in pain, but no one wants surgery either. The good news here is that most people dont need surgery for a herniated disc, they just need to know the 9 little secrets for getting rid of disc pain.
Bulging Disc L4/l5 Treatments
Bulging disc treatments can be divided into several categories. A good thing is that they start with basic and non-invasive procedures and are usually successful. If you are lucky, you wont need a complicated treatment but you will feel better. Anyway, here are all known treatments for bulging disc l4/l5 issues, you can find today.
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Can A Herniated Disc Heal On Its Own
A herniated disc doesnt actually heal on its own, but the pain does become less intense and can even go away entirely as the nerve becomes less irritated.
However, it will mean weeks and possibly even months of some fairly intense episodes of pain.
Your own immune response will treat the material that protrudes out of the disc as a foreign object and send an immediate response, usually inflammation, which is very painful. The water from inside the disc will be absorbed by the body and the disc will shrink in size.
Not only is this process lengthy, but it is painful as well. Chances are that you will never recover your full range of movement and your risk for developing another bulging or herniated disc is quite high since you did not take steps to prevent a reoccurrence.
Discectomy As A Surgical Treatment Option For Bulging Disc:
Another important surgery done for a bulging disc is discectomy. This procedure involves the removal of a portion of the bulged disc in order to relive the pressure on the nerve that causes weakness or tremendous pain. The part of the vertebrae which is above or below the bulged disc is removed by the doctors in order to gain adequate access. It might take several months before the patient resorts to physical activities and physical therapy is indeed the requirement of the hour. Many patients, experience utmost relief after discectomy but exceptions are always there. There are some patients who continue to suffer with the same pain and problems after the surgery. If discectomy didnât bring about any positive result, then the doctor should consider a different type of surgery for bulging disc.
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How Is Lumbar Disk Disease Treated
Typically, conservative therapy is the first line of treatment to manage lumbar disk disease. This may include a mix of the following:
Education on proper body mechanics
Physical therapy, which may include ultrasound, massage, conditioning, and exercise programs
Use of a lumbosacral back support
Medicine to control pain and relax muscles
If these measures fail, you may need surgery to remove the herniated disc. Surgery is done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make an incision in your lower back over the area where the disc is herniated. Some bone from the back of the spine may be removed to gain access to the disc. Your surgeon will remove the herniated part of the disc and any extra loose pieces from the disc space.
After surgery, you may be restricted from activity for several weeks while you heal to prevent another disc herniation. Your surgeon will discuss any restrictions with you.
What Is A Herniated Lumbar Disc
A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like center of your disc ruptures out through a tear in the tough disc wall .The gel material is irritating to your spinal nerves, causing something like a chemical irritation. The pain is a result of spinal nerve inflammation and swelling caused by the pressure of the herniated disc. Over time, the herniation tends to shrink and you may experience partial or complete pain relief. In most cases, if low back and/or leg pain is going to resolve it will do so in about 6 weeks.
Different terms may be used to describe a herniated disc. A bulging disc occurs when the disc annulus remains intact, but forms an outpouching that can press against the nerves. A true herniated disc occurs when the disc annulus cracks or ruptures, allowing the gel-filled center to squeeze out. Sometimes the herniation is so severe that a free fragment occurs, meaning a piece has broken completely free from the disc and is in the spinal canal.
Most herniated discs occur in the lumbar spine, where spinal nerves exit between the lumbar vertebrae, and then join together again to form the sciatic nerve, which runs down your leg.
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How To Diagnose A Herniated Disc
Your doctor or chiropractor will need to do a physical exam, followed by some questions about where and when the pain started.
Imaging tests will need to be taken to confirm if you have a bulging disc or a herniated disc. Common imaging could include an MRI, X-rays, or CT scans.
This combination of information will allow your chiropractor or doctor to make a diagnosis about the root cause of your low back pain.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation that includes taking your health history. Your physical therapist will also ask you detailed questions about your injury, such as:
- How and when did the pain start?
- At what time of day is it worse?
- What type of discomfort do you feel, and where do you feel it?
- What canât you do right now, in your daily life, due to the pain?
Your physical therapist will perform tests on your body to find physical problems, such as:
- Difficulty moving.
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Treatment For Disc Problems
- heat treatment
- gradually increasing activity levels within pain limits
- an exercise program designed to improve strength, flexibility and fitness
- a short-term trial of massage, spinal mobilisation or manual therapy
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids
- pain-relieving medications, such as paracetamol.
Sciatica pain may be treated with an injection of anti-inflammatory steroids into the area of the affected spinal nerve. In severe cases of sciatica caused by a large disc protrusion, pain may be relieved by surgery to trim the protruding disc. This may be done to relieve pressure on the affected spinal nerve.
In severe cases of degenerative disc disease, surgery may be considered to remove the disc and fuse together the two vertebrae on either side.
However, severe cases of both sciatica and degenerative disc disease are uncommon.
Remember, most disc problems resolve without specific treatment.
Bulging Disc Recovery Time
Unfortunately, bulging disc injuries are usually not a quick fix. Most bulging disc injuries do take several weeks, or even months, to settle.
Bulging discs will also remain weak and vulnerable for at least six weeks, sometimes longer. However, the good news is that most bulging disc injuries will not remain painful for that period. These lingering back sufferers tend to be inadequately managed disc injuries in the early phase.
The best thing you can do for a suspected bulging disc is to seek professional advice. After your assessment, your back physiotherapist or doctor will be able to provide you with what they would anticipate is your bulging disc recovery time.
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The Mckenzie Method Can Help Shift Sciatica Pain
The McKenzie Method is one type of physical therapy that involves a specific approach to exercise. For lumbar herniated disc pain, the goal is to shift pain away from your leg and centralize it more in your lower back.5
- Your specific symptoms typically determine which McKenzie Method exercises a physical therapist will suggest.
- After your symptoms have moved out of your leg, the approach usually shifts to longer-term rehabilitation to strengthen your back and other key muscle groups.
Even after the lumbar herniated disc pain has subsided, a back strengthening and stretching program should be continued to reduce the risk of lumbar pain returning.
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What Does A Slipped Disc Feel Like
A slipped disc or herniated disc usually causes immediate, intense pain. Some people describe it as an electric shock, followed by sharp pains in the lower back. Other descriptions include:
- Pain in the lower back and numbness down one leg
- Pain that gets worse if you try to sit or stand or stand up straight
- A sharp pain that gets worse when walking even a short distance
- Low back pain that prevents you from staying in any one position for more than a few minutes
- Muscle weakness in one or both legs
- A burning sensation in the lower back
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What Causes Lumbar Ddd
Your spinal discs absorb shock to the spine.
Just like in your car, they reduce the effect of traveling over rough ground to prevent injury or trauma when we do everyday movements like twisting, flexing, and bending.
Imagine your discs go through a lifetime of wear and tear.
Two main things happen over time:
1.Loss of fluids in the discs which makes them less flexible and thus less effective shock absorbers.
They become thinner and the space between your vertebrae is reduced.
2. Cracks and tears in the outer layers of the spinal discs the gel-like material inside the nucleus of the disc leaks out, which leads to bulging discs, ruptured discs, and fragmented discs.
Visualize your spine as a chain where it is just as strong as the weakest link.
Unfortunately, within the spine, the weakest link also often absorbs much of your weight, because of the misalignment of the vertebrae.
This puts increased force on the areas of the soft-jelled disc, which causes them to wear down over time.
As a result, the lumbar disc degeneration symptoms are lower back stiffness, tightness, and generally a sharp pain in the lower back.
Does Stretching Help A Lumbar Disc Bulge
When I spoke to this particular lumbar disc patient at our Toronto chiropractor office Transform Chiropractic, he told me that it had started several days ago, was getting progressively worse, and that hed been trying to stretch it out to relieve the pain. Hed been trying to touch his toes, and other similar types of flexion stretches, which he thought had helped it feel a little better temporarily afterwards, but he was still getting worse.
We hear this all the time. People who think that stretches like trying to touch your toes, are good for your lower back and discs.
The reality is that forward bending stretches are bad for your lower back and for lumbar disc bulges. In fact, with a disc bulge or herniated disc this is one of the worst things you can do.
So why would doing that typical forward, touch your toes stretch, be bad? Because this forward movement, compressing the front of the disc, is the exact movement and stress that bulged or herniated the disc in the first place. Doing stretches like this, in the long term, only makes it worse.
If its bad for your discs, and may actually worsen the disc injury, why can the stretch make it feel a little better right afterwards?
Feels good in the short term, but results in long term problems, and the disc issue getting worse!
Easy to see how this is confusing to people, as it feels good as youre doing the stretch, and even for 20-30 minutes afterwards, but the problem continues to get progressively worse.
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Will I Need To Have Spinal Surgery
Herniated disks get better on their own over time or with nonsurgical treatment for 9 out of 10 people. If other treatments dont relieve your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery. There are multiple surgical techniques for relieving pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, including:
- Diskectomy to remove your herniated disk.
- Laminectomy to remove part of the bone around a herniated disk and expand your spinal canal.
- Artificial disk surgery to replace a damaged herniated disk with an artificial one.
- Spinal fusion to directly join two or more vertebrae together to make your spine more stable.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Herniated Disc
The disc may press on the nearby nerve roots or spinal cord causing symptoms. A person may not have any symptoms or they may have mild, moderate, or severe symptoms.
The symptoms of disc herniation in the lumbar spine may include sciatica or numbness, weakness, and/or tingling or other sensations in the leg and/or foot pain in the lower back and/or buttocks and pain in the leg and/or foot. Symptoms of disc herniation in the cervical spine are similar, but they affect the neck, arm, and hand.
A person with a disc problem in the lower back may also have difficulty bending forward at the waist and worsening pain when sitting or straining, or with sudden movements .
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What Complications Does A Bulging Disc Cause
A bulging disc is a common, age-related spine injury. The spine is made up of stacked vertebrae with spinal discs sitting between each one. The tough discs provide cushioning, support, and shock absorption and movement to the vertebrae. Each disc is made up of an outer ring and inner, jelly-like core .
A bulging disc occurs when the nucleus shifts to press against the discs outer ring, causing the disc to flatten and protrude into the spinal canal. Age-related wear and tear on the spine is the most common cause of a bulging disc. A traumatic accident like a car crash or sports accident can also damage spinal discs.
Most bulging discs develop in the lumbar spine. Not all protruding discs are painful some people live with disc damage for years without even knowing it. But thats not always the case. Keep reading to learn more about complications that can arise from a bulging disc.
Alternative Treatments To Repair A Bulging Disc
Though their clinical effectiveness is still up for debate, alternative treatments are yet another possibility to consider when trying to repair a bulging disc. Popular options include:
- Chiropractic manipulation. This common form of alternative care treats bulging discs by manually realigning the spine to restore functionality and reduce pressure. A chiropractor may also use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation therapy to relieve pain and help speed the healing process.
- Massage therapy. In addition to relieving muscle tension, massage can increase blood flow and circulation to help reduce muscle soreness or soft tissue injury.
- Restorative yoga. Yoga can both stretch the muscles to relieve tension in the spine and strengthen the muscles that support the spine, promoting better mobility.
- Pilates. Similar to yoga, Pilates is a form of exercise that concentrates on strengthening the body with an emphasis on core strength, flexibility and posture.
- Acupuncture. This ancient Chinese form of physical therapy uses small needles to stimulate specific points in the body, which causes the nervous system to provide temporary pain relief.
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When Is A Professional Opinion Recommended For Bulging Disc
1. Loss of Bladder or Bowel Function. There are some bulging disc cases where professional care is essential. In some cases, such as when you lose bowel or bladder control, it is deemed an emergency, and you may require immediate surgery. These bulges usually are very significant and affect your nerve control involving your bladder or bowels. It would be best if you went straight to your nearest emergency department in these instances.
2. Weakness in your limb muscles is a significant concern. If you experience arm, hand, leg or foot weakness, please seek prompt medical assessment.
3. The reduced or altered sensation is your next priority. Mild disc bulges can reduce your ability to feel things touching you, e.g. numbness or pins and needles. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should seek professional assistance.
4. Referred Pain. Pain in your limbs, e.g. legs or arms , is usually a more significant injury than when experiencing only spinal pain. We recommend that you seek the professional advice of your trusted spinal care practitioner.
5. Spinal Pain. Interestingly, if you are only experiencing spinal pain, bulging discs are generally mild injuries and are most likely to be rehabilitated quickly. Please adhere to low disc pressure postures and exercise accordingly. If in doubt, please seek professional advice.