Did you know that you could be suffering from a bulging disc and not be aware of it? That’s because a bulging disc must place pressure on surrounding nerves before symptoms emerge. Most bulging discs affect the lumbar (lower) part of the spine between the L4 and L5 vertebrae and do not cause symptoms. However, if discs bulge outward from the S1 and L5 vertebrae, pressure on spinal nerves (especially the sciatic nerve) may produce radiating pain that extends from the lower back to the buttocks, hips, legs and even down to the feet.
What is a Vertebral Disc and Why Does It “Bulge”?
Intervertebral discs are spongy tissue “pads” that separate vertebrae from each other. Without these discs, your spine would be inflexible and deteriorate rapidly as the vertebrae would crush each other. The exterior of vertebral discs is made of tough, fibrous tissue called the annulus fibrosus while the interior is softer and less fibrous. The annulus fibrosus also connects to the vertebrae directly above and below it so that the whole spine remains flexible and aligned from the neck to the tailbone.
Resilient, exterior disc fibers prevent the inner portion of the disc from leaking out (herniating) by hydraulically securing it and distributing pressure evenly. Due to wear and tear, aging or repetitive activities that place stress upon the spine such as bad posture or bending over excessively, this fibrous exterior weakens and allows the disc to bulge out from between the two vertebrae in which it separates. Unless treated in a timely manner, bulging discs often lead to herniated discs, or discs that have ruptured.
How Do I Know If I Have a Bulging Disc?
The only way to know for certain if you have a bulging disc is by having diagnostic imaging tests performed, such as an MRI scan, on your back and neck. Magnetic resonance imaging uses injectable contrast techniques to provide x-ray images of interior body tissues targeted for detailed examination by a radiologist. An MRI image will highlight the bulging tissue in a lighter shade compared to normal tissues.
Chiropractic Treatments for Bulging Discs
When detected early before rupturing, bulging discs can be successfully treated by Dr. Wottrich using manipulation/adjustment techniques, spinal decompression or both. Adjustments involve Dr. Wottrick manually working your spine to ease nerve pressure by reducing subluxation and correct any improper disc placement. Spinal decompression complements adjustment and manipulation treatments by further decreasing pressure on spinal nerves using a traction table to gently “stretch” the spine and provide immediate pain relief. In addition, spinal decompression therapy reduces disc pressure to facilitate a flood of nutrients and oxygenated blood necessary for healing damaged discs.
Avoid suffering herniated discs by making an appointment at First Chiropractic in Austin, TX for a complete assessment of your spine and overall health. Dr. Wottrick will order the appropriate tests and initiate treatment to keep your back healthy, strong and pain-free.