You may be familiar with the terms herniated and bulging discs, and while many people use them interchangeably, they are actually two separate conditions. A herniated disc results when a crack in the tough outer layer of the cartilage allows some of the soft inner cartilage to protrude out of the disc. This is also referred to as a ruptured disc. A herniated disc is more likely to cause pain and results from compression of the nerve or nerve root.
A bulging disc occurs when a disc in your spine bulges outside of its usual area. There is no rupture or tear, and the disc is intact and not leaking fluid. This can still result in a lot of pain or dysfunction because the disc is not in its normal shape or balance. If left untreated, bulging discs have the potential to become herniated.
Together, we will create a personalized treatment plan catered to YOUR body, YOUR pain points and YOUR speed. What is right for one won’t be right for another. We specialize in the following methods to create a customized treatment plan.
Your San Clemente chiropractor will first evaluate the entire spine to better understand where your pain is truly coming from before providing any treatment. Once they have a better understanding of your personal pain pattern and symptoms, they may apply some gentle adjustments that can help to realign the spine for better overall function during the healing process.
By applying soft tissue massage treatments to the areas around the vertebrae, chronic pain patterns and muscle spasms can be reduced. This facilitates rehydration of the discs and promotes healing to damaged tissues while reducing deep muscle tension and pain.
Although bulging discs and herniated discs are two separate conditions, the causes and symptoms are often similar. As we age, the discs in our back deteriorate and naturally bulge downward, so most bulging discs are due to age-related degeneration. The condition often develops over time and starts out gradually and progresses over time. Other causes of bulging discs may include repetitive spinal stress, genetics, obesity, spinal trauma or injury, poor lifting techniques, and poor posture.
Pain from a herniated disc often comes on abruptly and are often caused by an acute injury. However, it can also be the result of gradual, age-related wear and tear. Many people are unable to pinpoint the exact moment and cause of their herniated disc pain.
Most herniated discs occur in the lower back, although they can occur anywhere along the spine including the cervical area. The resulting pain is often dependent on where the herniated disc is located but may include pain in the arms or legs, numbness or tingling, and muscle weakness. Symptoms often occur only on one side of the body.
When it comes to a bulging disc, symptoms will vary according to the area of your spine that is affected. General symptoms include pain at the site of the bulging disc, pain that radiates into the arms or legs, pain that worsens with strenuous activity, pain that goes away when you stand upright with good posture, and muscle weakness or spasms.
Advanced age is a risk factor because the discs in the spine become less pliable and elastic as we age. Men between the ages of 30 and 55 are the most likely to develop herniated discs as well as those that have occupations that are physically demanding, people who sit for extended periods of time, those who some, and obese people.
Nerves spread outward from the spinal cord and down to your legs. Your legs may experience numbness, tingling, or pain if a herniated or bulging disc is irritating the sciatic nerve, the large nerve that extends from your spine and down the back of your legs into your ankles and feet.
The majority of herniated and bulging discs don’t require surgery. In fact, with chiropractic care, bulging or herniated discs are often resolved relatively quickly. Adjustments, massage therapy, and other treatments facilitate the healing of these issues without surgery.
When you first experience pain, your doctor will complete a medical history and exam to understand your symptoms as well as any prior conditions or injuries. Imaging studies such as an x-ray, MRI, or CT scan may also be ordered.
If you don’t have any symptoms, you may not need treatment. However, if you do have pain and other symptoms, they may get worse without treatment. This is because you may try to move less which could weaken the back muscles that support your spine. Leaving a herniated disc may also eventually lead to issues with arthritis in the spine.
Chiropractic treatment for herniated discs is effective, safe, and long lasting and is often the preferred treatment method for people experiencing this condition. It is non-invasive and doesn’t require injections or drugs, and your chiropractor has a variety of options available to help treat your condition.
The majority of herniated discs can be treated without surgery. Only a small number of people with herniated discs actually go on to have surgery to treat the problem. Herniated discs can usually be treated with more conservative measures such as chiropractic treatments.
Full recovery time after lumbar disc replacement surgery will depend on your overall health and lifestyle. As a general rule, recovery can vary from a few weeks to up to a few months–unless you are in the surprisingly large number that experiences Failed Back Surgery Syndrome afterwards.
Failed back surgery syndrome is recurrent or persistent symptoms from a person who has previously had spinal surgery. The patient may feel like their symptoms got better for a while after their surgery and then got worse again, or they may feel as if their symptoms never got better, or even got worse than before surgery.
Conservative treatments such as gentle stretching and exercise, heat and ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and chiropractic treatments will often help heal a slipped disc (bulging or herniated discs) and relieve associated pain.
Just because a disc is herniated does not mean it will need surgery to be corrected. In most cases, a herniated disc will heal with more conservative treatment measures like chiropractic care. Studies show that more than 85 percent of patients with herniated discs do not require surgery.
A herniated disc will often cause no pain at all because it hasn’t reached a certain severity level, which can make identifying the herniated disc difficult. When pain is caused by a herniated disc, it is usually because pressure is placed on nearby nerves which can result in pain and a variety of other symptoms such as numbness and tingling.
A person with a herniated disc should avoid any exercises that make the pain they are experiencing worse. These activities may include sudden pressure on the back, heavy lifting, and strenuous or repetitive activities.
Chiropractic care is often the preferred method of treatment for patients suffering from a herniated or bulging disc because it is non-invasive and doesn’t require medication. Chiropractic treatments can help improve mobility and decrease pain with conservative treatments. If you are suffering from a bulging or herniated disc, chiropractic treatment is a great place to start. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get you back to feeling like your best self!