Can A Tumour In The Spine Cause Bulging Discs
In rarer cases a tumour in the spine can also push against a nerve root and mimic the same symptoms of pain and weakness as a bulging disc. For this reason it is extremely important to get an accurate diagnosis from a health professional so that the cause of your problem is diagnosed correctly, since bulging disc treatment may reduce your symptoms.
Tips For Relieving Pain From Herniated Discs
Do you experience achy or sharp radiating pain to your shoulder, arm, buttock or leg? This may be an indicator of a bulging or herniated disc in the neck or back. Between each of the vertebrae that make up your spine are small cushions called discs.
Herniated discs are more common in the 30-50 age bracket. A herniated disc is when the material inside the disc pushes outwards, irritating the nerve exiting at that level. This can be on either side of the spine and depending on the nerve affected in the neck or back, can cause radiating pain, numbness and loss of sensation.
Most people are able to relieve their pain from a herniated disc using medications and physical therapy, with improvements seen in about four to six weeks. However, in cases where the pain is very severe, surgery may be used as a last resort treatment.
What Is A Bulging Disc
Before you go about exercising with a bulging disc, its important that you fully understand your injury and the limitations that come along with it.
At least 90 percent of people over the age of 30 have at least one episode of back pain, and most of this pain is the result of a disc problem. Our spinal column is made up of stacked vertebral bones. Soft cartilage discs in our back are positioned between the vertebrae to cushion them as we flex and move, and each disc has a skin of tough outer cartilage thats shaped to fit precisely between the vertebrae it cushions. Bulging discs occur when the outer shell becomes weaker, allowing the disc to swell to one side of the spinal canal.
A bulging disc can cause symptoms like pain in your neck, shoulder, arm, or chest, leading to numbness, tingling, and weakness in your arms or fingers. Potential treatment options include a laminectomy, a laminotomy, disc replacement, anterior cervical disc fusion, and lumbar fusion. An expert spinal surgeon can help you determine that best path forward after analyzing your condition.
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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.
So What Is A Bulging Disc
To understand what a bulging disc is, we must first understand the anatomy of the spine.
Put simply, the spine is made up of individual vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc that provides a cushion so the vertebrae dont rub together. The discs between the vertebrae, have a gel-like material inside .
A great way to think of the discs is like that of a balloon filled with water, and these discs help resist compressive forces on the spine.
When a disc bulges the gel-like material inside of it gets pushed back towards the nerves and structures of the spine. This bulge can sometimes compress spinal structures, ligaments or nerves in your spine and cause pain, tingling/or burning sensation, and/or other symptoms.
* It is important to note that a bulging disc doesnt always touch the nerves, and for many a bulged disc doesnt even produce any pain at all. However, it could progress to become a herniated disc eventually, which can be problematic.
- Sitting for long periods of time, esp in poor posture puts more pressure on the discs.
- Decreased hydration of the disc as one ages .
- Repetitive bending, lifting, and twisting .
- Heavy lifting with poor form due to stress on the front of the spinal column causing the disc to bulge out back.
- Can also result from osteoarthritis or age-related degeneration.
- Trauma such as a car accident.
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Neck Stretches To Relieve Pain
Stretching may benefit people with a bulging or herniated disc. Just remember that stretching should not increase pain. If pain increases with stretching, stop immediately.
For example, if a stretch causes a shooting pain down your shoulder and arm, dont perform the stretch. The goal of stretching is to relieve pain, not increase it.
Perform The Pelvic Bridge
The pelvic bridgetargets the gluteus maximus, a large muscle that provides support and stability to the low back.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back and bend your knees. Begin by tensing your abdominal muscles and then lift your butt in the air. Hold it there for five seconds before lowering back down to the floor. Again, try three sets of 10 reps.
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How To Prevent Herniated Disc Issues
Herniated discs develop for reasons that include injury and disease. However, a top reasons is also aging. The spines supporting structures and discs weaken due to aging, leading to discs that are more prone to tearing or rupturing with even small twisting movements or when lifting items.
Most herniated discs occur in the neck and lower back regions of the spine. However, they can happen anywhere along the spine. To understand how to avoid herniated disc problems, look to the primary causes of this condition as a guide. For example, lifting heavy items puts pressure on the spine, especially the lower back, so learning proper lifting posture can reduce the risk of developing a herniated disc.
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What Are Intervertebral Discs
Lets first recap on what intervertebral discs are and what they do within the spine. Discs are the shock absorbers that sit between the bones in the spine . They are ring-shaped and are made up of two distinct parts.
The first part is the outer ring, called the annulus, which is made up of tough cartilage and proteins packed into strong layers. Within this sits the second part of the disc, called the nucleus, which is a jelly-like liquid that provides nutrients to the vertebrae and lubrication during spinal movement. This nucleus moves around within the annulus as we move, and plays a key role in allowing us to bend and lean as we go about our day. At each level of the spine, exiting the spine near where the discs sit, are the nerve roots. These nerve roots will become the nerves that supply sensation and movement to the limbs and the rest of our bodies.
You can read more about how a disc works and the symptoms a disc problem can cause by reading this post HERE.
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Stop All Activities That Cause Pain
Stop, Modify or Reduce exposure to any movement/position/activity that makes your symptoms significantly worse.
The continual exposure to aggravating activities may increase the inflammation of your disc bulge.
The aim is to remain as active as possible without exceeding the capacity of what the lower back can comfortably tolerate.
For example: Sitting
- Stop: If your pain worsens as soon as you adopt the sitting position, try to completely avoid sitting altogether for now.
- Modify: Try sitting with a different posture, use a different chair, use a lumbar support etc.
- Reduce Exposure: Minimize the amount of sitting that you are doing.
Exercise : Cobra Pose
Why its beneficial: Prone on Elbows Cobra pose
Important: Cobra Pose is an advanced version of prone on elbows. If you cannot perform prone on elbows, do not advance to this exercise.
Lie on your stomach with both hands on the floor near your chest slowly straighten both arms so that your head, chest, and shoulders are off the floor.
Hold for 10 seconds.
Lower your head, chest, and shoulders.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
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Strengthening Exercises For Herniated Disc
Strengthening the muscles that control and/or influence the lower back will help reduce pressure on the disc bulge.
- Lie on your back with knees bent.
- Engage your glutes to tilt your pelvis backwards.
- This should flatten your lower back onto the ground.
- Note: Be aware that this exercises also places more stress to the shoulder.
What To Do Next
2. Come join me on the . Lets keep in touch!
3. Start doing the exercises!
Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. For more information: Medical disclaimer.
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What Are The Most Effective Treatment Options
With most bulging discs in the lower back, you want to try an extension based exercise program . This can reverse the direction of the bulge and push the fluid back into neutral alignment. Also, working to strengthen your core is important.
Note: Always monitor your pain severity and location, if these exercises make you feel worse, stop doing them and try a different exercise or consult with your doctor.
The Complete Low Back Fix
What Is A Disc Herniation
The bones in your back, called the vertebrae, are stacked one on top of another and are separated by discs. These discs contain a tough outer layer, known as the annulus, and a jelly-like inner layer, known as the nucleus.
In the case of a herniation, the nucleus of the disc begins to push through the annulus and, in some cases, goes into the spinal canal. When this occurs, it can contact the nerves along your spine and cause numbness, tingling, pain and weakness down the legs.
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What Is A Lumbar Bulging Or Herniated Disc
Discs are like miniature jelly doughnuts, exactly the right size to fit between your vertebrae. Theyre made out of an outer layer of tough cartilage that surrounds softer cartilage in the center.
A bulging disk looks like a hamburger thats too big for the bun. The disc extends outside its normal place and the bulge typically affects a large portion of the disc.
Bulging is considered part of the normal aging process of the disk.
A herniated disk, on the other hand, happens when a crack in the tough outer layer of cartilage allows some of the softer inner cartilage to escape out of the disk.
Herniated disks are also called ruptured disks or slipped disks, and cause much more pain than compressed discs.
When Steroids And Prolotherapy Are Needed
When disc material prolapses or herniates through the annulus, a severe inflammatory reaction occurs, which affects the lumbar nerves and causes excruciating pain. This is one time when steroids are needed to resolve the pain. With appropriate treatment using steroids injections onto the nerve and Prolotherapy treatment to the lower back, it is possible to strengthen the ligaments through which the disc herniated. Anyone this debilitated by pain would likely need to come into the office in a wheelchair or be in obvious discomfort but after treatment often would be able to leave walking out much happier.
If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, slipped disc, herniated disc, Prolotherapy is safe, effective, and cost-friendly. It is a low-risk procedure that treats a herniated disc symptoms.Questions about our treatments?
If you have questions about Spinal fusion surgery complications and how we may be able to help you, please contact us and get help and information from our Caring Medical staff.
Brian Hutcheson, DC | Ross Hauser, MD | Danielle Steilen-Matias, PA-C
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How Is A Diagnosis Made
When you first experience pain, consult your family doctor. Your doctor will take a complete medical history to understand your symptoms, any prior injuries or conditions, and determine if any lifestyle habits are causing the pain. Next a physical exam is performed to determine the source of the pain and test for any muscle weakness or numbness.
Your doctor may order one or more of the following imaging studies: X-ray, MRI scan, myelogram, CT scan, or EMG. Based on the results, you may be referred to a neurologist, orthopedist, or neurosurgeon for treatment.
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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How Do You Sleep With A Bulging Disc In Your Lower Back
If you have a herniated disc, you may want to try sleeping on your side curled in a fetal position:
Single Leg Raises For The Lower Abdominal Muscles
Start by lying on the back and tightening the stomach muscles.
- Slowly raise one leg 8 to 12 inches from the floor, without bending the knee.
- Keep the low back and opposite leg flat against the floor. Hold leg raise for 8 to 10 seconds, then slowly lower to starting position.
As strength builds, aim to complete 2 sets of 10 lifts.
If performing these exercises is painful, water therapy may be considered as an alternate option. The buoyancy water provides support, which in turn minimizes the pain. Water exercises can be particularly beneficial in strengthening the lower abdominal and hip muscles.
Read more about Abdominal Exercises
Nerve mobilization and glide exercises aim to relieve nerve tension and make the nerve more flexible.9 For sciatic nerve mobilization, follow these steps:
- Sit upright on a chair and lift one leg to straighten the knee, while keeping the other foot flat on the floor.
- Slowly bend the ankle so that the toes are pointing upward.
- Continue to bend the ankle back and forth, pointing the toes upward and outward.
- As tolerated, to put more tension on the sciatic nerve, try the same nerve glide with the head bent forward, bringing the chin towards the chest.
- Pump the ankle up and down 15 to 20 times and then repeat the exercise with the other leg.
Aim to complete 3 rounds for each leg, twice a day.
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When & How To Seek Medical Care
Fortunately, the majority of herniated discs do not require surgery. With time, the symptoms of sciatica/radiculopathy improve in approximately 9 out of 10 people. The time to improve varies, ranging from a few days to a few weeks.
- Limit activities for 2 to 3 days. Walking as tolerated is encouraged, along with an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, if not contraindicated for the patient. Bedrest is not recommended.
- Primary care evaluation during this time may lead to considering other non-surgical treatments noted below, such as physical therapy.
- Radiographic imaging, such as an MRI, is not recommended by the American College of Radiology, unless symptoms have been present for six weeks.
- Referral to a spine specialist, such as a neurosurgeon, is also recommended if symptoms persist for greater than four weeks. A specialist will often want advanced imaging, such as the MRI, completed prior to the appointment.
- Urgent evaluation and imaging is recommended if there are symptoms of significant leg/arm weakness, loss of feeling in the genital/rectal region, no control of urine or stool, a history of metastatic cancer, significant recent infection or fever AND radiculopathy or a fall/injury that caused the pain. Imaging should also be considered earlier for findings of progressive neurologic deficit on exam.