Bulging disc

Lumbar bulging disc

Between every vertebra there is an intervertebral disc. When a disc becomes degenerated or injured to bulges out from its original position and we call this a disc bulge or bulging disc. These aren’t quite like herniated discs because a herniated disc means that disc material disc has herniated (gone through) cracks in the harder outer disc layers. A bulging disc means the entire disc has degenerated and bulged out to some degree (its squashed down like an old pillow).

A bulging disc can place pressure on the spinal nerves and spinal cord and this can lead to pain and complication. Bulging discs occur naturally as we age and loose fluid from within the disc. They only cause issue when they bulge into another structure or become chronically inflamed. Bulging discs are most common in the low back (lumbar spine). Take home message – bulging disc are normal

The process of a bulging disc can be speed up with trauma or injury such as motor vehicle accidents and sporting accidents, infection or degenerative or inflammatory conditions such as different types of arthritis.

Symptoms of a disc bulge

Both the disc and the structures that the disc bulge places pressure on can cause pain. That means the symptoms can include low back or neck pain depending on where the bulge is, tingling into the arms or the legs, weakness in the arms and the legs and numbness and sensory disturbances in the arms and legs. It should be made very clear though, most bulging discs will not cause pain. Most people have a bulging disc somewhere they have no idea about.

Treatment of a disc bulge

At Sydney Spine & Sport Centre (S3C), Balmain and Dee Why we specialise in the non-surgical treatment of low back pain. Treatment depends on the location, nature, and extent of the disc bulge and most importantly what associated features of the disc bulge are generating pain. For example compression or irritation of pain sensitive structures. Our Chiropractors and physiotherapist use evidence based treatments that have been shown by research to be very effective. Usually conservative chiropractic or physiotherapy treatment is enough to successfully treat a low back pain related to a disc bulge however in rare cases we may need to send patients off for a steroid injection to ease the pain and give us a window to mechanically improve and strengthen the spine. Exercises and strengthening the area where the disc bulge has occurred is a large component of treat at Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C). Surgery is the absolute last resort but sometimes it is require is conservative chiropractic and physiotherapy measures fail. This is a team decision with you, your medical doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor and surgeon.

Causes of low back pain

The following conditions are common causes of low back pain.