Disc bulges or disc protrusions are commonly, yet incorrectly named ‘slipped disc’. The result of these can cause much pain and disability. Those suffering from this condition range from their late 20’s to 40’s although elderly people can also be affected. Pain may follow a heavy lifting, twisting or straining episode, or repetitive stress trauma, which maybe preceded by a history of back pain. The pain usually begins as an acute back pain, which progresses and extends down the back of either leg.
Five pairs of nerves exit the spine in the lower back, to form two sciatic nerves that travel down your leg. The disc, if injured and bulges, can put pressure on the nerves. The result? Inflammation. And pain; which can shoot down the leg, especially on coughing, sneezing, prolonged sitting and other movements. This bulge can also take place in the cervical area which affects the neck, shoulders, arms and hands.
The discs consist of an outer fibre ring (annulus fibrosus) containing an inner gel-like core (nucleus pulposus). They are responsible for the flexibility as well the shock absorbing and carrying capacity of the spine. The outer ring is thicker at the front of the disc, making the back more susceptible to injury.
This pain often worsens with extended bed rest. Pain pills or muscle relaxants are helpful for immediate relief of pain but come with numerous side effects, and does not correct the nerve compression. Physical therapy can be very painful; even worsening the condition, as it exercises the unstable disc and joints. Back Surgery is recommended if other treatment options fail, and involves cutting away the disc or bones to make room for the nerve. Unfortunately, studies have shown that after about six months to one year, there isn’t much difference between patients who had the surgery and those who did not.
Fortunately, disc protrusions can respond to safe natural chiropractic care.