What is a disc bulge and what to do about it? Part 1
April 22, 2023
You may have heard of the term ‘slipped disc’? A weakened disc, taking years to deteriorate, can bulge, or herniate, back towards the nerves that exit behind it. Disc bulges are common, and often aren’t associated with symptoms; however they have the potential to cause debilitating nerve pain in some cases. Disc bulges most commonly occur in the mid neck and very lower spine.
What are the symptoms of a disc bulge?
Symptoms that can be associated with disc bulges are usually that of ‘nerve pain’ – typically feeling sharp, electric, shooting, and possibly numb and tingly. There may also be a muscle spasm; a tactic the body uses to stabilise the area and prevent further injury.
If the location of the bulge is in the mid neck, the symptoms tend to be in the neck and/or into the shoulder/arm/hand where the nerve travels. If the disc bulge is in the lower spine, the symptoms tend to present in the low back and/or the pelvis/glute/leg/foot (the collection of nerves from the lower back into the legs forms the ‘sciatic nerve’ and therefore this type of nerve pain is usually called ‘sciatica’).
A thorough history and examination is always a must… in any case! When it comes to disc bulges, Chiropractic neuro-orthopaedic tests help us locate and identify the cause of the nerve pressure. During your initial examination, you may experience pain and/or limitation of movement with particular tests, weakness of certain movements, or possibly a lack of sensation. We often combine this with X-ray findings to distinguish why the problem is occurring, so we can work towards correcting it. (NB: we can usually obtain enough information from the consultation and X-rays from our state of the art in-clinic X-ray, but there may be occasions where we need to refer externally for an MRI).
“After the first few sessions you had me walking again!”
“I initially came to see you when I was in a bit of a mess with two slipped discs and sciatica, feeling rather sorry for myself and in great pain. I had suffered with back pain for 15 years. At my consultation you listened to me, and you put in place an intensive course of treatment over a three month period. After the first few sessions you had me walking again and on the road to recovery. At the end of the 3 months I was fit enough to play golf again.”
We always want to ensure that your progress is going how we would expect and will monitor this over the long term.