The spine is a very complex structure that provides support for the entire body. There are 24 jointed vertebrae and nine fused bones that make up the spine, and all of the jointed pieces have the ability to shift or slip out of place. These bones are cushioned with cartilage discs to help the spine bend and twist without coming apart. However, these little discs are vulnerable to damage from the bones and muscles around them, including the spinal vertebrae. You usually need professional care to heal when a disc is damaged.

What is a Bulging or Herniated Disc?

Spinal disc herniation occurs when one of many causes leads to a tear in the fibers that make a ring around the outside of each disc. Inside this fibrous exterior is a softer interior that cushions the force of walking, running, and standing. This core can be pushed outside through the tear, much like a hernia pressing through a tear in the abdomen muscle wall. The nerves along the inside and outside of the spine often react very strongly to the increased pressure and reduced support of a damaged disc.

Bulging and Herniated Disc Symptoms

It is perfectly possible to have a major herniated disc and never experience a single symptom. If the disc is located away from nerve roots and has no contact with muscles or tendons, you could go through life without noticing it. However, it can also lead to some of the most severe neck and back pain we treat. Most patients with bulging discs experience:

  • Sharp and spreading pain in one particular part of the back or neck
  • Irritation in the rib cage, thighs, arms, or shoulders
  • Numbness throughour extremities affected by the disc
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced reflexes

Cause of Bulging and Herniated Discs

Some people are born with disc deformities and herniation, while others are surprised to learn about the problem and can’t remember the exact cause. Nearly any form of damage to the spine could rupture or tear a spinal disc. A few of the most common causes include:

  • Sudden trauma to the spine, such as a car accident
  • Overwhelming strain due to heavy lifting
  • A simple sneeze that puts unexpected force on the spine
  • Repetitive activities and actions that involve the back or neck
  • Wear and tear that comes with age
  • Sitting for too long with poor posture

Bulging and Herniated Disc Risks

There are numerous risk factors that have been linked to herniated disc issues. While some simply can’t be changed, others are lifestyle choices. Spinal damage risks include:

  • Growing older, due to the natural degeneration of the discs
  • Jobs that involve sitting for long periods of time or heavy lifting
  • Staying sedentary and allowing your back muscles to lose strength
  • Gaining excess weight, which strains the spine further
  • Being male
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Eating a poor diet that doesn’t provide the nutrients required for joint and disc health

Bulging and Herniated Disc Treatment Options

For severe cases, it may be impossible to relieve the pain without surgery to repair this disc. However, this shouldn’t be your first choice due to the risks. It is possible to only aggravate the symptoms further due to nerve damage caused during the repair. Start with less invasive options like:

  • Chiropractic spinal manipulation to release pressure on the affected disc or discs
  • Anti-inflammatory Injections to provide long-term pain relief without dangerous medications
  • Massage to relieve swelling or tension
  • Tracking of bulging discs that aren’t causing symptoms
  • Medically supervised weight loss to relieve strain on the entire spine

Heal Your Spinal Damage

If you are tired of periodic numbness or chronic pain that just won’t leave you alone, stop by for a consultation to determine if you have a herniated disc. Many patients who come to us for sciatica treatment are shocked to find that their hip or foot pain is linked to damage relatively high on the spine. We understand all of the nerves that weave their way in and out of the spinal column. So, we can help pinpoint the problem and treat it promptly for amazing results. To heal any spinal damage in the Fort Wayne, New Haven, or surrounding areas, contact us today.