If you’re suffering from low back pain caused by a disc bulge, this post will be a great resource for you. Although they are extremely painful, the majority of them will heal. They are much more likely to heal and can heal faster if you avoid some common mistakes and apply the correct therapies.
Before trying any particular therapy, it is helpful to understand the purpose of a disc and how they get injured. Once you understand the mechanism of disc bulges, it is easier to grasp what therapies will be most beneficial.
The disc has 3 basic components; an outside layer of rings that are tough and fibrous, and inside gel, and cartilage caps above and below. Essentially, the disc is a spacer in between the bones of the spine. This spacer is what allows all of the movement in our back. You can watch the following video for visuals and more explanation:
Now that you have a better understanding of what a disc is, it now time to understand how they get injured. Most commonly, disc bulges are caused from too much bending over from the low back. Too much rounding and bending back and forth through the low back slowly causes wear and tear of the disc. Especially a lot of bending while also twisting or side bending. Watch here for information on what causes a disc bulge:
In the following two videos, you learned what a disc is and what causes disc bulges. Now, it is helpful to understand that there are progressions of disc bulges. In the beginning stages, the inner gel causes a mild bulge, but it isn’t leaking out of the outside layer. These are called contained bulges. In more sever situations, the gel can completely rupture out. This can result in more pain, but also may require a different treatment approach. Over time, the disc loses its ability to maintain pressure and this can result in instability and will benefit from the correct types of exercises. Watch here for a full understanding of the different progressions of disc bulges:
Before you begin treatments or even try to stretch it, you should know the best way to let it heal. This usually involves a strategy on how to not move it too much. With an injury in any other area of the body, it’s recommended to cast it, wrap it, or put it in a sling. Ironically, for low back injuries, people try to stretch it and usually stretch it too much, or even worse, they stretch it into the wrong direction. This following video with discus how to move more through the hips with bending in order to avoid more damage to the disc. Also, nutrition recommendations are made that will help control inflammation.
Once you have a good grasp on how to avoid more injury, you may be able to try to find the correct stretch for you. There is not one perfect stretch for all disc bulges. Again, it really depends on the severity and stage of your disc bugle. In the early or less severe stages, bending backwards is often the most helpful. Be careful though, for more severe or chronic bulges, bending backwards can slowly make it worse. In these instances, it’s best to avoid stretching the back itself and instead stretch the surrounding areas such as the hips.
After the disc bulge starts to heal, it is usually recommended to stabilize it. This is because the surrounding joints and ligaments become more vulnerable to injury as a result of the disc itself being more flimsy and less pressurized. Be careful though, core stability is not just doing crunches and sit-ups. True core stability is about engaging all of the muscles around the low back in equal proportions. It is learning how to move through the hips and shoulders with minimal movement within the spine itself. The following are some of them more common and safe exercises. These are only quick demonstrations of the exercises. It is highly recommended to have a specialist observe your form. These exercises look easy, but are often performed incorrectly with too much movement through the spine.
Now that you understand the basics of disc bulges and how to heal them naturally, you might want to get some treatment. There are many options available and there’s not one superior choice. Each of the following can be beneficial, but usually it’s finding 2 or even 3 that work best for you, and doing those frequently for the next few weeks to months. This next video describes the best treatment options for disc bulges. They include traction or decompression therapy, spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments, massage, acupuncture and McKenzie methods.
Hopefully this helps give you some insight into management for disc bulges. As you can see, the best approach is multidimensional and individual. Please feel free to contact our office if you need any assistance or have any questions.