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How To Relieve Lower Back Pain Due To Bulging Disc

Can Tens Machines Help For Bulging Disc L4/l5

Lower Back Pain due to herniated and bulging discs

During the time frame you are in pain, there is an interesting method you can use to trigger natural pain killers already available in your body. This is possible thanks to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator or better-known TENS machines. They work like magic and they are very helpful to most patients suffering from bulging disc l4/l5.

TENS is ideally used during some form of physical activity. You should wear it while walking for 30 minutes every single day. The result will be instant. TENS machine will send electrical impulses to the affected area and trigger endorphins alongside other chemicals that act as pain killers. On the other hand, there are no complications or side effects of these machines. But, if you have pacemaker, metallic implants, or spinal cord simulator, you must not use TENS machines. In addition, some people are allergic to nickel or adhesives TENS machine use. Talk to your doctor before you start using one.

Overall, these machines are safe to use and very versatile. A person can use these for arthritis, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, neck, and back pain. As you may know, there are a lot of models out there. Be free to start with the simplest machine and if it works well, all you need to do is to continue using it. Investing in a more powerful and advanced machine is ideal if you can afford it and you want more advanced features.

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Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Goals

The vast majority of people with degenerative disc disease experience low back pain symptoms that flare up periodically, but do not get worse over time. For those people, the main goals for managing lower back pain caused by degenerative disc disease are usually:

  • Achieving enough pain relief to be able to engage in lower back pain exercises and a rehabilitation program
  • Trying to manage the low back pain and maintaining an ability to function at home and at work.

Once a disc has degenerated, the degenerative process cannot be reversed. Instead of trying to rehabilitate the disc itself, treatment focuses on improving the health of surrounding structures, such as the spinal nerves, vertebral bones and joints, and supporting muscles and ligaments.

The main goals of the rehabilitation program include a therapist-guided and individual approach, which aim to2:

  • Increase, restore, and/or maintain the range of motion in the affected spinal segment
  • Build physical strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, and endurance in the lower back and legs
  • Guide patients to make ergonomic changes in their workspace and home to support the spine and prevent recurrence of pain
  • Teach the correct use of posture while sitting, walking, sleeping, and lifting to promote maximum function with lesser pain

Moderate Physical Activity Releases Endorphins

While it may seem counterintuitive, staying active can provide pain relief if you have a lumbar herniated disc. When you exercise the body releases endorphins, which can naturally improve your mood3 and reduce the perception of pain.

Most people with lumbar herniated discs are able to tolerate low-impact activities such as:

  • Walking outside or on a treadmill
  • Using an elliptical trainer

Read more about Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise

If your pain is more severe, you may want to try a water-based activity, such as hydrotherapy. Water-based activities are often recommended because the buoyancy of water counteracts gravity and decreases the load bearing placed on your spinal discs. Your health care provider may suggest a dedicated water physical therapy program or swimming.

See Water Therapy Exercises

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Seeing A Physical Therapist

In most cases, seeing a physical therapist relieves the pain associated with a herniated disc and trains your body on prevention of back and neck pain in the future. Its important to make sure that if you are seeing a physician for your disc problems, that they work in coordination with our physical therapists, so that you can achieve the fastest recovery possible.

How Is A Bulging Disc Different From Herniated Disc And Which Is Worse

The 25+ best Bulging discs ideas on Pinterest

Now that we know what a bulging disc is, lets discuss disc herniation.

In most simple terms, a herniated disc is when the fluid material from the disc ruptures through the outer layer of the disc and now spills out the back, which can directly compress on spinal nerves and spinal structures. If you use the water balloon example from above, but now imagine the balloon has burst under pressure Thats a herniated disc.

As you can see a herniated disc might be worse. But still many patients with Herniated discs/Bulging discs have NO symptoms, so its important to get proper diagnoses for your specific situation.

Usually bulging disc can be resolved over time if managed well, whereas the herniated disc will just scar down since the annulus has ruptured.

A nice visual spine model is provided below differentiating between normal, bulging, and herniated discs:

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What Surgical Procedures Treat Herniated Discs

If you’ve tried non-surgical strategies and you still have symptoms after three months, surgery may be a good option. Its often a simple outpatient procedure that takes less than an hour.

“Spinal surgery has come a long way, even in the past few years. Unless there’s a concern, most people go home the same day, and usually in just a few hours after the procedure,” Dr. Anand says.

There are two main surgical procedures for a lumbar herniated disc.


This procedure removes portions of the disc as a way to relieve the pressure on the spinal column. Microdiscectomy is sometimes called microdecompression.


In a laminectomy, a portion of the vertebral bone is removed. This creates more space for the spinal cord and nerves, so they aren’t being compressed.

There are two additional options for herniated discs in the cervical spine

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion or cervical disc replacement

ACDF or CDR are both surgeries that remove the offending disc and insert either a bone graft or artificial disc to stabilize the area.


In this surgery, your surgeon will remove a small piece of bone from your vertebra to create more space for the pinched nerve.

After either surgery, most patients feel relief from symptoms like pain, numbness, and weakness right away. However, it could take several weeks or months for the nerves to fully heal.

Numbness Or Pins And Needles

A patient can feel numbness or sensations in the foot. This happens because the bulging disc will prevent the nerves from operating properly. As such, some of the signals will pass completely while others wont. In a nutshell, the sensation you are going to feel wont be normal. Patients describe this symptom as funny, but it is far from that. For some, this issue can be more annoying and more problematic then the pain itself.

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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.

Read more about McKenzie Therapy for Mechanical Low Back Pain

Causes Of Bulging Discs

Back Pain Exercises for Lower Back Disc Relief

While they can develop at any age, bulging disks are most common in people over the age of 30, and for reasons not totally understood theyre twice as common in men as in women.

Discs act like soft cushions that buffer the space between vertebrae, which are the small bones in the spinal column. Normally, discs serve as our natural absorbers of shock, allowing us to move around and remain flexible. In healthy adults, discs have a soft, gel-like center made up of flexible cartilage, surrounded by a tougher layer that keeps them held in place.

As someone becomes older, experiences more inflammation or becomes injured, the outer layer of the discs becomes more susceptible to being stretched, pulled or bulged out of the normal place they occupy. Once bulging, a disc becomes wider, stretched and also might become slightly squashed at the same time. Some experts say a bulging disc looks almost like a hamburger thats too big for its bun.

Growing pressure around a disc and poor posture are two common reasons why discs can start to bulge. When a normal disc experiences accumulating pressure, it starts to expand abnormally outward where it can come into contact with sensitive neural tissues. Eventually the bulging disc protrudes into the spinal canal, which is what triggers the sharp pain or tingling sensation thats associated with disc problems.

Bulging Disc Takeaways

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What Is A Herniated Disc

The condition is often an outcome of natural, age-related wear and tear, also known as disk degeneration. Herniated discs may result from an accident or injury to the back. Minor injuries or simple movements may also result in disc herniation.

Disc herniation is most common in the lower back , followed by the neck , but it can occur anywhere along the spine.

Reasons For Chronic Lower Neck And Back Pain

Pain is considered persistent once it lasts for more than 3 months and also goes beyond the bodys natural recovery process. Persistent pain in the low back usually includes a disc issue, a joint problem, and/or an aggravated nerve root. Usual causes consist of:

Back herniated disc. The jelly-like facility of a back disc can appear the challenging outer layer as well as irritate a nearby nerve origin. The herniated part of the disc has plenty of healthy proteins that create inflammation when they get to a nerve origin, and also swelling, as well as nerve compression, trigger nerve origin pain. The disc wall is also richly supplied by nerve fibers, and a tear through the wall can create serious pain.

Degenerative disc illness. At birth, intervertebral discs have lots of water and at their healthiest. As people age over time, discs shed hydration and also wear down. As the disc loses hydration, it can not resist forces as well, and also transfers pressure to the disc wall that may establish splits and cause pain or weakening that can bring about a herniation. The disc can also collapse and also contribute to constriction. How To Relieve Lower Back Pain Due To Bulging Disc

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What Are The Symptoms

Symptoms of a herniated disc vary greatly depending on the location of the herniation and your own response to pain. If you have a herniated lumbar disc, you may feel pain that radiates from your low back area, down one or both legs, and sometimes into your feet . You may feel a pain like an electric shock that is severe whether you stand, walk, or sit. Activity such as bending, lifting, twisting, and sitting may increase the pain. Lying flat on your back with knees bent may be the most comfortable because it relieves the downward pressure on the disc.

Sometimes the pain is accompanied by numbness and tingling in your leg or foot. You may experience cramping or muscle spasms in your back or leg.

In addition to pain, you may have leg muscle weakness, or knee or ankle reflex loss. In severe cases, you may experience foot drop or loss of bowel or bladder control. If you experience extreme leg weakness or difficulty controlling bladder or bowel function, you should seek medical help immediately.

How Are Herniated Discs Diagnosed

How to Fix a Bulging Disc in Your Lower Back

To figure out if you have a herniated disc, you can see an orthopedist or your primary care doctor. A herniated disc will be suspected if low back pain is accompanied by radiating leg pain.

Your doctor will likely have you do the straight leg raise test. Lying down, youll lift one leg straight up. If you have a herniated disc compressing on a nerve, that movement will increase the compression and cause pain throughout that leg. Your doctor will also ask about numbness, weakness, and slow reflexes.

From there, imaging studies are usually ordered. You may need:

Magnetic resonance imaging

This technology reveals the spinal cord, surrounding soft tissue and nerves. It is the best imaging study to support the diagnosis of a herniated disc.

MRIs are the diagnostic tool of choice for herniated discs because they can show soft tissue.

Nerve conduction studies and electromyogram

These studies use electrical impulses that measure how much your nerves might be affected by compression from a herniated disc. NCS and EMG are not routine tests to diagnose herniated disc, and are only used if you have symptoms of nerve trouble like numbness and radiating pain. These studies are typically only used if MRIs and a physical exam are inconclusive and your doctor thinks other conditions are a possibility.


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What Is A Slipped Disc

When you have a ‘slipped’ disc, a disc does not actually slip. What happens is that part of the inner softer part of the disc bulges out through a weakness in the outer part of the disc. A prolapsed disc is sometimes called a herniated disc. The bulging disc may press on nearby structures such as a nerve coming from the spinal cord. Some inflammation also develops around the prolapsed part of the disc. Inflammation may irritate a nerve and also causes swelling, which may put pressure on a nerve.

Any disc in the spine can prolapse. However, most prolapsed discs occur in the lower back . The size of the prolapse can vary. As a rule, the larger the prolapse, the more severe the symptoms are likely to be.

A Pharmacist Can Help With A Slipped Disc

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are not suitable for everyone. Speak to a pharmacist if you’re not sure.

Stronger painkillers containing codeine may help for pain that’s just started.

But these types of painkillers can cause addiction and should only be used for a few days.

  • lose feeling in 1 or both legs
  • cannot control when you pee or poo
  • got it after a serious accident, such as a car accident

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What Treatments Are Available

Conservative nonsurgical treatment is the first step to recovery and may include medication, rest, physical therapy, home exercises, hydrotherapy, epidural steroid injections , chiropractic manipulation, and pain management. With a team approach to treatment, 80% of people with back pain improve in about 6 weeks and return to normal activity. If you donât respond to conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery.

What Is The Makeup Of The Lower Back

How I Fixed My Lower Back Pain (Bulging Disc) With Movement Training

To understand different causes of lower pain in the back, it is important to value the regular design of the tissues of this area of the body. Essential frameworks of the lower back that can be related to signs and symptoms in this region consist of the bony lumbar spine , discs in between the vertebrae, tendons around the spinal column and discs, spinal cord as well as nerves, muscle mass of the lower back, internal body organs of the pelvis and also abdomen, and the skin covering the back area. How To Relieve Lower Back Pain Due To Bulging Disc

The bony lumbar spinal column is designed so that vertebrae piled with each other can give a movable assistance framework while also safeguarding the spine from injury. The spine is made up of worried cells that prolongs down the spine from the brain.

Each vertebra has a spinous procedure, a bony importance behind the spinal cord, which shields the cords anxious tissue from impact trauma. Spinal column likewise have a solid bony body in front of the spine to give a platform appropriate for weight bearing of all tissues over the butts. The lumbar vertebrae pile right away atop the sacrum bone that is located in between the butts.On each side, the sacrum fulfills the iliac bone of the pelvis to form the sacroiliac joints of the buttocks.

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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?

Donkey Kicks How To Relieve Lower Back Pain Due To Bulging Disc

This is an additional glutes exercise relocation that functions as a lower-back helper.Exactly how to do it: Get down on your hands and knees, with your hands straight over your shoulders. Elevate up your appropriate leg, maintaining your knee at a 90-degree angle, till your leg is alongside the ground. Gradually lower it back down to the ground. Repeat for 90 seconds, then switch legs.

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