The word bulging is great, describing the way a weakened or deteriorated disc can move out of optimal positioning (some movement is perfectly natural). Another common term is protruding disc. For some, it happens suddenly as a result of trauma, but typically the process takes a while to go from a contained bulging disc into a herniated disc which can lead to serious pain or lasting conditions. Herniation means the disc’s inner liquid-nucleus leaks through the compromised shell.
A bulging disc itself may not cause any pain or discomfort (especially when located in the thoracic spine), so they’re hard to spot for people who aren’t seeing a chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist. Once the bulging disc starts causing trouble, that’s when symptoms begin to show including pain or tingling in the neck, shoulders, and extremities, radiating pain, and muscle spasms in the lumbar region, etc. Symptoms can depend on disc location. For example, if it leads to a herniation/rupture that puts pressure on your sciatic nerve then sciatica can be a resulting symptom.
A large variety of things can lead to a weakened, bulging, or protruding disc. For many, it’s the general wear and tear of life and time – osteoporosis. This includes long-term poor posture habits. Then, of course, there’s degenerative disc disease, injuries, and the impact of repetitive daily tasks (made worse with bad posture). Another risk factor is obesity, putting excess pressure on load-bearing discs. Shoes with poor support are also a risk factor for runners and people on their feet in them all day.
There is no universal definition for this term in medical lingo, it just means a disc bulge in general but the words are often used on MRI reports and CT scans. Similar terms are diffuse annular bulge, minimal/mild diffuse disc bulge, posterior diffuse disc bulge, and so forth. These words help to differentiate or describe the way the disc is protruding or misshapen.
Whenever the disc is bulging 50-100% beyond its normal jurisdiction, that’s typically referred to as a circumferential disc bulge. An annular bulge is a more generalized term many doctors use to communicate that the annulus fibrosus is involved in the bulge in question, but it hasn’t ruptured and become herniated.
Great question, we offer non-surgical and minimally-invasive options. It’s really going to depend on the underlying causes of your specific condition, medical history, current health, etc. Here at Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, we believe in using a noninvasive multidisciplinary approach that incorporates elements of chiropractic care, physical therapy, and chiropractic massage therapy needed to restore spinal health.
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First, don’t perform any exercise or stretch for bulging disc pain if the pain is sharp or severe. You may want to first perform them under the supervision of a professional like a Better Health chiropractor or physical therapist after a clear diagnosis to improve bulging disc recovery time. Here are a couple options: