A bulging disc, or commonly referred to as slipped disc, is a spine injury in which the disc protrudes outside of the space it normally occupies. The injury typically occurs in the lumbar area of the spine, and in the upper and mid-back of one’s neck. As you age, the likelihood of developing a bulging disc increases due to a loss of elasticity and structure in the spinal discs.
Causes of Bulging Disc
Bulging discs develop when pressure on a spinal disc results in the compression of a spinal nerve or change in its normal shape. The injury generally occurs due to:
Degenerative Disc Disease – Degenerative disc disease is a term used to describe the condition in which the spinal discs gradually deteriorate because of a decline in water content. These changes in the spinal column makes the discs vulnerable to spinal injuries and other complications. A sedentary lifestyle may accelerate damage on the spinal discs and increase the risk of developing bulging discs.
General “Wear and Tear” – Over the course of time, our spine and vertebrae deteriorate due to years of absorbing shock from body movements (bending, walking, and twisting). When discs become worn out or the distribution of weight around the disc changes, a bulge, or protrusion may begin to form.
Trauma or injury – An accident or sudden trauma that is superimposed on an existing spine disease can disrupt the spinal system and worsen a bulging disc. A traumatic injury not only causes pain, but also contributes to a more complicated recovery process for existing spine conditions.
Poor Posture – Bad posture plays a role in the development of bulging disc. When you slouch forward, you are placing more stress on the spinal disc. In turn, this can strain your spinal disc and overstretch your spinal ligaments. But even if you have a good walking and sitting posture, you must still ensure that you keep moving throughout the day to relieve stiff muscles and joints.
Occupational Hazards – If you have a job that involves repetitive bending, lifting, and driving, you may be at risk for developing spinal injuries such as bulging disc. Heavy physical work that is done repeatedly and incorrectly places more pressure on the back and can put you at a higher risk for back and neck injury.
Treatment of Bulging Disc
Treatment for protruding disc depends on your symptoms. Most people with this injury do not require surgery, as most symptoms can improve through conservative treatments such as pain medications, physical therapy, and a few changes in lifestyle.
Below are some therapeutic options that help relieve symptoms of bulging disc:
1. Seek Physiotherapy – Consult with a qualified physiotherapist about stretches and exercises that can enhance your strength and your range of motion. Once you learn the correct exercises for your condition, you can then continue to perform the physical activity on your own to regain muscle strength and prevent another injury from occurring.
2. Stay active – People who lead an active lifestyle tend to be have less injuries, fragility and inflammation. So if you are not experiencing any severe pain that keeps you from exercising, try to move around throughout the day, and do different forms of exercise that you enjoy. Keep in mind that sitting for long periods of time has been linked to a number of health concerns such as obesity and high blood sugar, so it is important to exercise your back to help rehabilitate and prevent lower back pain.
3. Get enough rest and adjust your sleeping position – To ease the pain on your back, take time to rest and stay in bed for a few hours. Ensure that you are in a comfortable position while at rest. Ideally, you should lie down in a position that takes the pressure off your spine.
4. Maintain proper posture – If your job involves sitting behind a desk for prolonged periods of time, it becomes more important to stretch frequently and maintain good posture. If possible, get up from your seat and move around every 20 or 30 minutes. While working, use an ergonomic office chair that provides back support and helps you maintain a proper posture while sitting. When you’re done working for the day, try doing posture exercises to loosen up tight areas and strengthen you low back muscles. Light isometric exercises can also help keep your back upright throughout the day.