Bulging and Herniated Disc? Northbrook IL Chiropractor Can Help
Sometimes, because of physical trauma or just aging, the soft material in the middle of vertebral discs moves to one side, causing a bulge. In other cases, the disc can rupture and leak out the inner-disc material, which is referred to as “herniation”.
What is a Vertebral Disc?
The human spine houses 23 vertebral discs that act as shock absorbers and spacers for the 24 presacral vertebrae. A vertebral disc has a soft, gel-like center called the nucleus pulposus. It is encased by a tough outer layer called annulus fibrosus. Vertebral discs act to absorb and distribute shocks to the vertebrae, and to accommodate flexion of the spine.
When a disc is subjected to excessive stress or pressure, it can “bulge” outward as the soft center presses against the outer fibrous material from within. Bulges can put unnatural pressure on vertebrae and surrounding nerves. This commonly causes pain and tenderness, which often detracts from flexibility and reduces the patient’s range of motion.
Anatomy of the Spine
The human spine comprises 24 presacral vertebrae: 7 in the cervical spine (neck region); 5 in the lumbar region (lower back); and 12 in the thoracic region (middle/upper back).
Cervical spine vertebrae are referred to as C1 – C7. Thoracic vertebrae are labeled T1 – T12. And lumbar vertebrae are denoted as L1 – L5. These are the 24 vertebrae that are spaced with vertebral discs.
The spine also comprises the 4 fused vertebrae of the coccyx (tail bone) and the 5 fused vertebrae of the sacrum, a shield-shaped bony formation that is positioned at the base of the coccyx. These 9 vertebrae have no discs between them because they are fused together.
Bulging Discs vs Herniated Discs
Many people erroneously believe that bulging discs and herniated discs are the same. They are not. To an untrained eye, these two conditions can appear the same.
However, a skilled chiropractor for bulging disc understands the nuances between the two conditions – and how to safely and holistically treat each. In essence, disc bulging is caused by the soft center being squeezed too much, which displaces it from its natural position. In comparison, herniation occurs when the gel-like center of a disc breaks through the tough outer layers of fibrous tissue.
These two conditions have several commonalities including:
- Both cause pain and tenderness
- Both typically cause nerve pain and/or dysfunction
- Both are caused by the movement of inner cartilage
- Both are most common in the thoracic and cervical spine
That’s the end of their similarities though. Here’s how bulging and herniated discs differ:
- Herniated discs are not as common as bulging discs
- A bulging disc protrudes and a herniated disc ruptures
- Bulging discs cause a dull pain and herniations cause sharp pain
- Bulging discs are caused by excessive pressure while physical trauma causes herniation
These two conditions are separated by their degrees of severity. A chiropractor for bulging disc will also commonly treat disc herniation. Their treatment approaches are similar but unique. The chiropractor can typically use incremental adjustments to treat a bulging disc. More aggressive adjustments may be needed to ease the pain and infraction of a herniated disc.
Symptoms of Herniated and Bulging Discs
It will be beneficial to contact a chiropractor for bulging disc if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Pain radiating from the upper spine to the chest and/or stomach
- Tingling in the shoulders, neck, arms, hands, and/or fingers
- Mild-to-severe pain in the spine, buttocks, legs, and/or feet
- Numbness in any of those same areas
- Difficulty walking or flexing the spine
- Bladder incontinence
- Muscle spasms
Some people experience few or mild symptoms because of a bulging vertebral disc, and therefore fail to seek proper medical attention. Left untreated, disc herniation can result, which can cause severe symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening.
That’s why it’s very important to have any symptoms analyzed, diagnosed, and cared for by a professional chiropractor for bulging disc.
An Appointment With Dr. Gregg – Northbrook Chiropractor
Dr. Gregg Gerstein and his team understand the importance of delivering personalized, gentle chiropractic care for every patient. Take the example of Karen, a new patient at Align Wellness Center, our Chiropractic Center in Northbrook, Illinois.
Karen was experiencing consistent, dull lower back pain that extended down her left leg to the back of her knee. She called in and spoke with the team leader, Amy to learn about how chiropractor could be of benefit.
Amy listened to Karen and helped her to understand that the pain could likely be caused by a bulging disc. She also explained to Karen that a bulging disc can become a much more serious problem if it herniates. Amy set an appointment for Karen to come in and see Dr. Gregg later that same afternoon.
During the consultation and exam, Dr. Gregg was very intent in determining whether Karen’s disc was bulging or herniated. It was only bulging and had not herniated. This was good news as a herniated disc will often require a more aggressive therapy approach than a bulging disc.
Dr. Gregg scheduled Karen for a series of incremental chiropractic adjustments to begin that day. After the first adjustment, Karen reported immediate relief and continued to feel better and better as the weeks progressed.
The team at Align Wellness Center also taught Karen about natural and safe ways to self-manage her spine in between trips to see the doctor.
A chiropractor for bulging disc helps patients experience less pain, enhanced flexibility, and more efficient physical function. This article explores what bulging discs are, what causes them, their differences from herniated discs, and how chiropractic care can be beneficial.
Self-Care Methods to Avoid Bulging Discs
There are several ways that you can reduce your likelihood of developing a bulging disc. Please consider the following holistic strategies:
- Be mindful of your sitting and standing posture
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes
- Lift with your legs, not your back
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Drink plenty of pure water
- Exercise regularly
- Eat nutritiously
Many people work at desks today. If you are one of them, be sure to stand up for several minutes every half hour or so. Move around and get your blood circulating. Do some gentle stretches for your spine and the rest of your body!
If you have been living with any of the symptoms of bulging vertebral discs listed above because you didn’t think they were severe enough to worry about, then please reconsider your thinking. Left unaddressed, a bulging disc can devolve into a herniated disc, which can lead to permanent nerve damage and other very serious problems.
If you are serious about your health and vitality, please reach out to the helpful and friendly team at Align Wellness Center at 900 Skokie Blvd, Northbrook, Illinois 60062.
Dr. Gregg Gerstein is a compassionate chiropractor for bulging discs and other conditions that detract from spinal health. He and his team have helped thousands of patients to live happier and healthier lives through gentle chiropractic care. They implement a holistic approach that encompasses total-body health and vitality. Let them help you to realize your full health potential starting today!