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Can a Chiropractor Help with a Bulging Disc?

Posted on August 19, 2023 in: chiropractic care, disc

Can a Chiropractor Help with a Bulging Disc?

Chiropractor Bulging Disc. A bulging disc sounds dramatic. Like something that couldn't possibly escape your attention. But that's not necessarily the case. People often misunderstand bulging discs and what needs to be done about them to avoid further complications.

Deterioration of spinal discs is responsible for some of the most common and painful back problems. You can do several things to prevent and address these problems, ranging from preventative treatments and simple pain management to acute treatments and active care. But first, let's clarify exactly what's happening with a bulging disc.

What is a Bulging Disc?

The spine is a marvel of human anatomy, consisting of a series of vertebrae cushioned by soft, gel-like discs. These discs act as shock absorbers, with two main components: an inner ring called the nucleus pulposus and an outer ring called the annulus fibrosus.

Your spine's shock absorbers might 'bulge' out from their usual place between the vertebrae due to a traumatic injury or simply as you age. In most cases, the 'bulging portion of a bulging disc is localized to a small segment of the disc's edge. If you think about an analog clock lying flat on a table, the bulging portion of a disc might be between the five and the seven.

There are a lot of complications that can arise from this condition. For example, the bulging portion of the disc may press against a nearby nerve and cause significant pain and mobility issues. If you run your hand along your back, you can feel bumps where each vertebra is. But bulging discs don't manifest in a way that you could feel with a touch.

How Do You Know If You Have A Bulging Disc?

As alarming as its name might sound, bulging discs often go unnoticed. They frequently go undiagnosed and only get discovered by accident when having diagnostic imaging done for an unrelated issue. Once the symptoms become apparent, however, they're hard to ignore.

When the disc pinches a nerve, the pain can be localized or cause general discomfort that radiates outwards. In either case, the severity can range from a dull, nagging ache to sharp, debilitating pain that can disrupt daily activities.

Alongside pain, a bulging disc might create a sensation of "pins and needles." This tingling might be accompanied by numbness, which could be constant or come and go unexpectedly. These sensations indicate that the disc prevents signals from traveling effectively along the nerve to their intended destination.

Bulging disc diagram

One unique symptom of a bulging disc is what is sometimes called "traveling pain" or "radiating pain". This occurs when the disc presses on a nerve associated with a specific limb or area of the body, and the discomfort is felt not just at the source but along the entire length of that nerve. A classic example is sciatica, which can be caused by a bulging disc in the lower spine. This condition can manifest as a sharp, shooting pain that travels from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the back of the leg.

Obviously, your spine moves and flexes as you do. So when you bend down to pick something up or carry a heavy box across the room, you might squeeze the disc. Needless to say, that does not feel good. Conversely, you might find sudden relief in certain positions, like lying flat with a pillow between your knees to relieve pressure on the disc.

Finally, in severe cases, a pinched nerve might also lead to muscle weakness. This could manifest as difficulty lifting objects, stumbling while walking, or reduced grip strength.

It's important to keep in mind that although these symptoms can indicate a bulging disc, they can also indicate other spinal or neurological conditions. One way to find out is to schedule a consultation with your local chiropractor.

The Chiropractic Approach to a Bulging Disc

While chiropractic care might be one of the first options many consider when experiencing back pain, it's often misunderstood. The promises are clear: alleviate pain, restore mobility, and prevent future issues. But how does a chiropractor get you from point A to point B? Here's what you can expect:

  • Thorough Consultative Examination: Regardless of whether your problem is a bulging disc or frequent migraines, chiropractic care always begins with a review of your medical history, followed by a hands-on examination and possibly some diagnostic imaging.
  • Spinal Manipulation: Most chiropractic sessions involve spinal adjustments, which involve the application of controlled force to the spine, either from a licensed chiropractor's own hands or from special tools, to alleviate pressure on nerves or muscles.
  • Complementary Therapies: Chiropractic care is holistic. A chiropractor might recommend therapeutic exercises, stretches, or hot/cold therapy alongside spinal adjustments.
  • Personalized and Evolving Treatment Plan: Spinal conditions change over time, either because chiropractic care is working or because an unexpected injury complicates recovery. Treatment plans need to be dynamic and adaptable.

The top priority for chiropractic care is always to get to the root of the issue. Relieving pain and improving mobility aren't the goals -- they're the byproducts. If you're feeling discomfort in your extremities, your chiropractor will stay laser-focused on figuring out what's causing the pain instead of just minimizing the pain.

Chiropractor and patient during consultation for disc bulge

Is Chiropractic Care Safe for Bulging Discs?

Chiropractic care is traditionally regarded as an incredibly safe treatment option. Before even considering its effectiveness, chiropractic care already has several advantages over traditional treatments. Seeing a general practitioner for a bulging disc might result in recommendations for painful surgery, habit-forming pharmaceuticals, and never-ending checkups -- all of which can do more harm than good.

As with any medical condition, the road to recovery can differ for everyone. While some may experience immediate relief after a chiropractic adjustment, others might need a few weeks to a few months of consistent visits to witness substantial improvement. However, survey after survey has found that chiropractic patients feel better after a session than patients feel after a visit to their doctor for back pain.

Chiropractic Care in Maple Grove for Bulging Discs

Life's too short to be limited by pain. Total Spine Health and Injury Center should be your first stop if you're in the Twin Cities area and grappling with the discomfort and limitations of a bulging disc. As a natural, holistic, research-backed option, chiropractic care is your ticket to more flexibility, mobility, and vigor.

Dr. Tieri of Total Spine Health and Injury Center is Maple Grove's resident expert on spinal disc problems. Schedule an appointment with him today for effective, personalized care that gets results!