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How to Heal a Bulging Disk
A bulging disc occurs when the cartilage between two of the spine’s vertebrae extends past the normal occupying space, describes Dr. Jerry Swanson of the Mayo Clinic 1. A bulging disc commonly occurs as a person ages and may or may not be associated with pain. Swanson visually describes a bulging disc to a hamburger with a large piece of meat---the meat part extends just a little past the bun. There is a key difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc. The herniated disc is torn, and the inside material of the disc is exposed. Non-invasive treatment methods are similar between a hernia and bulging disc.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Manage your pain using cold or hot therapy. Use cold therapy to treat pain; apply ice packs to decrease swelling. Place heat onto the pain area--an electrical blanket or warm compress works well. Consider massage therapy for relaxation and relief of pain symptoms. Remember, not all bulging discs are painful. Many people, both young and old have a bulging disc and have no physical signs or symptoms.
Pain Above the Knee Cap With Running
Focus on centralizing the disc once pain is managed suggests physical therapist Doug Wallace, director of Rehab at the West Caldwell Care Center, in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Work with a physical therapist to determine what exercises would benefit the budging disc. Consider spinal extension or flexion exercises as well as a variety of stretching movements. Initiate strength and core training exercises while working with your physical therapist. Continue to practice learned exercise techniques at home. Only perform exercises you are properly trained in to avoid further injury.
Learn posture management as well as proper bending and lifting techniques. Practice good ergonomics when sitting, standing and bending to not exacerbate the bulging disc. Remember to hinge at your hips and bend at your knees when lifting items suggests University of California Los Angeles ergonomics website. Avoid slumping and back pain by sitting all the way back in a chair.
Treatment of a bulging disc may avoid the disc from rupturing. Though no pain is present, strengthening exercises and proper ergonomics are important to follow from the condition worsening.
Bulging discs are commonly found on the lower back area; the lower back receives the most amount of stress and pressure.
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- Mayo Clinic
- University of Maryland Medical Center
- Fardon DF, Williams AL, Dohring EJ, Murtagh FR, Gabriel rothman SL, Sze GK. Lumbar disc nomenclature: version 2.0: Recommendations of the combined task forces of the North American Spine Society, the American Society of Spine Radiology and the American Society of Neuroradiology. Spine J. 2014;14(11):2525-45. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2014.04.022
- Baert, AL. Encyclopedia of Diagnostic Imaging, Volume 2. New York, NY: Springer; 2007.
- Hu JK, Morishita Y, Montgomery SR, et al. Kinematic evaluation of association between disc bulge migration, lumbar segmental mobility, and disc degeneration in the lumbar spine using positional magnetic resonance imaging. Global Spine J. 2011;1(1):43-8. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1296056
- The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York. Herniated disc (cervical, thoracic, lumbar). Updated 2019.
- Atlanta Brain and Spine Care. A herniated disc or a bulging disc: is there a difference, and how can I tell? Updated 2019.
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Herniated disc. Updated 2019.
- Fardon, D., M.D., et. al. Lumbar disc nomenclature: version 2.0 The Spine Journal. Nov 2014 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2014.04.022
- Hu, J., et. al. Kinematic Evaluation of Association between Disc Bulge Migration, Lumbar Segmental Mobility, and Disc Degeneration in the Lumbar Spine Using Positional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Global Spine J. Dec 2011.
- Treatment of a bulging disc may avoid the disc from rupturing. Though no pain is present, strengthening exercises and proper ergonomics are important to follow from the condition worsening.
- Bulging discs are commonly found on the lower back area; the lower back receives the most amount of stress and pressure.
Walter Davis has been a personal trainer and coach for nearly seven years. His background and education in the health care field include creating personal fitness and nutritional training for a variety of clients. Besides being an EMT, Davis has a bachelor's degree from Northeastern University.