You probably know that your spine is made up of dozens of tiny bones to encapsulate your spinal cord. We often think that oddities in the bone are the root cause of back pain. But did you know that there are important pieces of tissue in between these bones that can cause great pain when they become damaged? These tissue protrusions are called bulging discs.
If you’ve ever had a bulging disc, you know just how important those little rubber circles in your spine are. What if there were some things you could do to reduce or eliminate that pain at the onset?
What Is A Bulging Disc?
The bones in the spine are separated by spinal discs that help absorb shock to the vertebrae. The discs are generally flat and rubbery and are about a quarter inch thick. When a disc spreads outside of its normal placement, a bulging disc is created. Bulging discs can be a totally random occurrence, having no traceable cause, but are often the result of age-related disc degeneration. Sometimes, bulging discs can be a result of improper lifting or twisting of the back, falls, weakness, or other accidents.
What Does A Bulging Disc Feel Like?
A bulging disc can induce a variety of painful symptoms, including neck pain, lower back pain, tingling, numbness, stiffness, or muscle spasms. It can also cause sciatic pain, which is nerve pain from your buttocks down to your feet, but is not to be confused with sciatica. This, and other pain, can occur from the rubbing of the disc against nerves nearby.
In more severe cases, even more damaging and painful symptoms can occur, including a loss of bladder or bowel control or numbness in the saddle area. The saddle region is the area of the body that would be in contact with a saddle when sitting on a horse and includes the groin, the buttocks and genitals, and the upper inner thighs. This can be indicative of a more serious issue, called cauda equina syndrome.
What Can Be Done To Treat A Bulging Disc?
Luckily, many people who experience bulging discs will have no symptoms within a few weeks of the onset. This means that the vast majority of bulging discs can resolve themselves. However, if the bulging disc is more severe or is persistent, there are several things that can be done to help, including:
Ice and heat. Ice can reduce spasms and inflammation. It is best to use within the first few days of pain onset. Heat can help manage pain.
Pain medications. To manage pain while the body is healing itself, a doctor may recommend varying pain medications.
Time. As mentioned, most bulging discs can be healed by the body with rest and time.
Stretching and exercise. With stretching and other exercises, many patients feel relief from bulging disc pain.
Epidural injections. Steroids can be injected as an epidural to reduce pain during the period of rehabilitation and healing.
Surgery. In more severe cases, minimally invasive surgery can be performed to resolve the issue from the inside out.
Massage therapy. Massages, in some cases, can support pain relief and healing efforts by releasing the body’s natural pain relievers, which are called endorphins.
Acupuncture. Using tiny needles that are inserted by pain areas, acupuncture can provide pain relief for patients suffering from bulging disc pain.
How Can A Chiropractor Help With Bulging Discs?
In addition to the above, a chiropractor can also help resolve your bulging disc issues. Using spinal adjustments and other stretching, bulging discs can sometimes be resolved in a few visits to your local professional. We would love to support you on your journey of reducing your back pain. Schedule an appointment with us online or call us to get started.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.