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6 Tips to Prevent Bulging Disc Symptoms

Do you have a bulging disc that’s causing you back pain? If so, you’re not alone—it’s one of the most common conditions in the spine—especially those between the age of 20 to 40 years old. That’s because as we age, our discs become more susceptible to being stretched, pinched, or bulged out from their natural position. Bulging disc symptoms include diffuse pain across the low back and neck, and if there is nerve irritation, tingling and numbness into the arms and legs. In some cases, even a loss of fine motor control into the extremities. With an average recovery time in 96% of cases improving in twelve weeks with no treatment, a bulging disc is a pretty annoying inconvenience. Luckily, but not so lucky, 50% of people with disc bulges move through life not knowing they have an issue, but they may move suddenly or in an uncoordinated manner and flare up the disc herniation.

The good news is, bulging disc treatment doesn’t have to be difficult. By making a few simple lifestyle changes, and incorporating bulging disc exercises into your daily routine, you can prevent herniations, bulges, and inflammation in your spinal discs from developing or worsening.

So what exactly is a bulging disc?

Between the vertebrae in the spine are discs with strong outer fibers and a jelly center, think of them like jelly donuts, that prevent the bones from rubbing against one another. They allow the spine to be flexible and strong by acting as shock absorbers for the twisting and turning that the spine does every day. When too much pressure is put on disc, the jelly on the inside presses on the strong outer layer and bulges out into the spinal canal. Sometimes that jelly breaks the strong outer layer and extrudes into the spinal canal.

Bulging Disc Symptoms

What’s the most common place for a disc to bulge?

Approximately 90 percent of bulging discs occur in areas of transition in the spine including the the lower back, or lumbar area, of the spine, specifically lumbar vertebra L4-L5 and L5-S1. Another common place is in the lower neck, typically at C5-6 and C6-7. A bulging neck disc occurs when a disc in the upper, or cervical, spine is damaged and weakened to the point that it protrudes outward.

Is a bulging disc the same as a herniated disc?

A herniated disc often results from a bulging disc. With enough pressure on the bulging disc, the tough outer layer of cartilage tears, allowing the softer inner cartilage to spill out into the spinal canal. This is called a herniated, ruptured, or extruded disc.

6 Tips to Prevent Bulging Discs

  1. Get back to breathing like a baby

In our first year of life as babies, we naturally learn to belly breathe getting 360 degree expansion around our abdomen. When we learn this, we are teaching our body how to stabilize fully and find intra-abdominal pressure. In fact, a recent study found that patients chronic low back pain were placed in an MRI had a lower ability to have full excursion of their diaphragm while breathing ie they have a harder time belly breathing. That’s how important breathing is for core stability, belly breathing, and preventing disc herniations.

2. Get Spinal Adjustments

Chiropractors use orthopedic tests to determine if you have a bulging disc and help pinpoint the underlying causes. After diagnosis, a chiropractor will perform targeted adjustments to help realign the spinal vertebra and prevent protrusion into the spinal canal.

Adjustments can accompany other techniques such as flexion-distraction, muscle stimulation, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory nutritional supplementation, and at-home stretches and exercises.

At Urban Wellness Clinic we want to get to the root cause of your pain. Discs may herniate but we want to know why there is compression on the spine causing a disc herniation. We use NKT muscles testing to tell us if your core is stabilizing or if there are any “energy leaks” causing your spine and discs to overwork to compress the spine to find stability. We also teach good posture and do an ergonomic assessment of your desk set up, since sitting is one of the leading causes of disc herniations.

3. Stay Active

People who remain active tend to be more robust and less likely to have a loss of mobility, injuries, and inflammation. Over time, a sedentary lifestyle can really start to wreak havoc on your discs, causing them to dehydrate, bulge and create back pain—especially if you’re overweight.

Go for walks and try other strength exercises to bulletproof the low back like deadlifting, kettle bell swings, and lunges, always with amazing form. Even a regular stretching routine can do wonders for lengthening the spine and helping posture, flexibility, and agility. This will keep the pain at bay.

4. Get Enough Sleep and Rest

A good night’s sleep should be a top priority, and a sweet seven to nine hours is ideal. This is critical for keeping stress hormones like cortisol under control, supporting a healthy body weight, and reducing the risk of more injuries. Aside from sleeping, resting is also quite important—especially if you’re an athlete training. It’s essential to give your body the appropriate time to rest and recover properly

5. Improve Your Posture

Many of us spend 12+ hour days at a desk, hunched over our computers. This is why it’s more important than ever to focus on our posture, stretch regularly, refind core stability, and to take breaks every 20 minutes to move around.

It’s unnatural to sit for long periods of time, so we really need to make it a priority to incorporate some stretching and exercising into our day to loosen up tight areas like our necks and backs, and help to retrain our bodies how to sit, walk or drive with proper posture. If you can get a standing desk, this is a great solution to alternate sitting and standing every 20-30 minutes

6. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Inflammation causes a wide range of problems—and it weakens our bones, muscles and joints, which makes bulging discs all the more likely.We’re often focused on what we should be eliminating from our diets to stay healthy. Sure, we know sugar, refined carbs, and trans fats are no-nos. But when it comes to real full-body health, we need to incorporate nutrient-rich anti-inflammatory foods. One of the best ways to control inflammation is to eat a diet packed with leafy green veggies, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, cage-free eggs, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and fermented foods containing probiotics. Though they’re an incredibly common ailment, bulging discs can be avoided.

Simply knowing there are solutions to prevent the discomfort is a light at the end of the tunnel. So be proactive. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. Make your back a priority and take action today! Give us a call and get assessed to get started.

In Good Health,

Dr Emily Kiberd