Let’s Talk About: Bulging Discs

Jul 27, 2023

What is a ‘Slipped/ Bulging Disc?’

In times gone by there existed a myth that all back pain was due to a slipped disc, and the disc can just be slipped back in, almost like a block in a Jenga game.

The truth is a little more complicated, so let me break it down in a geeky way for you.

A bulging or slipped disc is a common injury, it can occur due to an injury or be age-related. It can occur in the neck, upper back, or lower back.

Imagine the intervertebral disc like a jam doughnut, fibrous on the outside, and a jelly centre. Spinal discs are similar and are made of cartilage and glycoprotein and act as shock-absorbing rings separating the bony vertebra.

Spinal discs make space for the spinal nerves to exit from the spinal cord and spread across to your limbs and internal organs and allowing for movement at each spinal level.

Spinal disc injuries can vary in degree from a mild strain so moderate-severe disc bulges and in a worst-case scenario a complete disc herniation where the jelly-like nucleus of the disc pushes through the outside cartilage and presses against nerve roots or the spinal cord space.

Depending on the kind of bulging disc injury, the pain will be felt in different areas depending on the location of the disc injury.

In the neck, (cervical spine), pain may be felt in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, or upper back. In the upper back, (thoracic spine), the pain will be felt in the ribs, centre back, and internal organs, and in the low back, (lumbar spine), the pain will be felt in the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet.

The majority of disc bulges are asymptomatic, and most people don’t realise they have one. If pain does occur proactive treatment based on the conditions underlying cause can help preserve disc function and prevent a bulging disc from becoming herniated.

Treatment very rarely results in surgery and is often primarily exercised-based; acupuncture and spinal manipulation can assist in relieving pressure on the nearby nerves and tissues.

If you have any questions about a bulging disc, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Oakfield and we will do all we can to help.