Cervical bulging disc
Most of us take our necks for granted. However, our necks are truly remarkable structures. They offer 180 degrees of movement and support the weight of the head. A bulging disc is usually not painful however it can become a source of pain if the disc tears or protrudes into pain sensitive structures such as nerves. People use the terms bulging discs and herniated discs interchangeably however they don’t mean the same thing. A bulging disc just means the disc has started to bulge from its original position however a herniated disc means that the inner softer part of the disc has ruptured through the outer harder layers. A bulging disc can become a herniated disc. The most common reasons a neck disc will bulge is usually because of osteoarthritis and a wearing out of the disc. Several factors have been identified as increase the risk of a bulging disc and these include stain or injury, obesity, smoking, poor posture and inactivity.
Symptoms of cervical bulging disc
We must remember that a bulging disc in itself isn’t a source of pain. However as the disc bulges its ability to be a cushion and distribute forces diminishes making it more likely to tear, rupture or become inflamed and these will cause the disc to experience pain. When the disc becomes a source of pain we call this discogenic pain, when we have tears and ruptures we call this disc herniation and when the bulge or herniation protrudes into the nerves to cause pain we call this radiculopathy. In each scenario we experience neck pain, sensation changes in the shoulder arms and fingers and in cases of advanced nerve compression muscle weakness and sometimes loss of arm function.
Treatment of a cervical bulging disc
At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) Balmain and Dee Why we treat and manage a cervical bulging disc with chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments. We use treatment protocols that have been shown to be effective with research. Typically, although each patient is assessed on an individual basis we use a serious of treatments to reduce inflammation, improve mechanical function of the disc and spinal joints in the neck and strengthen the neck to reduce the risk of re-injury or ongoing chronic pain. It is rare that one of our chiropractors or physiotherapist will need to send you to a surgeon. The data shows that only around 10% of individuals with a bulging disc will require surgery.