If you've ever been told you have a bulging disc, you might be familiar with the intense pain that can radiate from your back to other parts of your body. Commonly misunderstood as a 'slipped disc', a bulging disc occurs when the disc between the vertebrae extends beyond its usual boundary, sometimes pressing on nearby nerves. This condition not only causes severe back pain but can also lead to nerve pain, pins and needles, or numbness in your legs and feet. It’s a frightening experience, but understanding the mechanics behind this condition is the first step towards relief. In this blog, we delve into what a bulging disc really is, how it impacts your body, and how osteopaths can effectively manage and treat the discomfort.

Q) I have been told I have a bulging disc? What Is It?

A) A bulging or protruding disc (used to be referred to as a ‘slipped disc’) occurs when the disc changes shape (for various different reasons) and protrudes further outwards from the spine than is usual. This can be absolutely excruciating, not just giving extreme back pain, but if it compresses onto the nerves around the spine, it can cause horrendous nerve pain or pins and needles or numbness in your legs/feet. This can be very scary because sometimes its hard to imagine how something happening in your back can cause symptoms in your legs or feet.  Part of our role as osteopaths is to reassure you by explaining the mechanism of nerve entrapment.  By helping you to understand how and why this is happening, it can reduce the fear around this condition.

Q) Can You Treat Disc Injuries?

A) Our treatment of bulging or damaged discs is to first carry out a detailed neurological assessment (for example, taking reflexes and testing muscle strength) to ascertain if there is any damage to the nerves. We would then use a variety of gentle but effective articulation techniques on your spine to help reduce the inflammation and to encourage your own healing mechanisms to mend the damaged disc. Soft tissue techniques will also be used to reduce the painful muscle contraction which often occurs around the area.  Advice on ways you should adapt certain aspects of your lifestyle whilst the disc is healing will also be given, things like the best position to sit in/positions to avoid/activities to be restricted where possible, etc.  All of this advice, along with the treatment, is aimed at speeding up the natural healing process of the disc injury and reducing the pain and suffering it is causing.

Dealing with a bulging disc can be a daunting and painful experience, but it doesn't have to be a permanent disruption to your life. With the right approach, including a thorough neurological assessment and targeted osteopathic treatments, relief is within reach. Our role extends beyond treatment; we provide the necessary guidance to help you adapt your lifestyle during recovery, from the best sitting positions to the activities to avoid. Armed with knowledge and comprehensive care, you can navigate this challenge effectively and minimize the impact on your daily life. Remember, understanding your condition is the key to overcoming it, and professional osteopathic care can significantly accelerate your journey back to health.