Treating Bulging Discs in Chicago with Chiropractic Care
Bulging discs can be a pain – literally! But chiropractic can offer you relief from bulging disc pain. In fact, regular chiropractic care can also help you avoid bulging discs in the future by keeping your spine flexible and healthy.
What is a bulging disc?
You’ve probably heard the term before and you probably know it has something to do with back pain. But what exactly is a bulging disc?
The “disc” is cartilage that is between most of the vertebrae in your spine. The disc has a soft cartilage interior and a more rigid cartilage exterior. You might picture it as something like a mini jelly donut. The job of this disc (or “disk”) is to allow our spines to move freely. Imagine if all your bones were stacked one on top of the next, with nothing between them to hold them together. You wouldn’t be able to bend your spine!
So the discs are the cushions between vertebrae that allow the spine to bend in all sorts of clever ways. However, if one of these discs becomes injured or inflamed, it can begin to press outward from its regular position. This is what we call a bulging. When a disc begins to protrude from its normal position, it often presses on one or more of the nerves in your back. When these nerves are pressed, you feel pain.
Are bulging discs, herniated discs, and slipped discs all the same thing?
Actually, a bulging disc is slightly different than a herniated disc (which is also sometimes called a slipped disc). As we age, our cartilage begins to stiffen and this can cause the disc to “smush.” As it is compacted by the pressure of the vertebrae, the disc flattens and its diameter grows. Imagine if you pressed down hard on a tennis ball or racquetball: it would become shorter and wider. This is what is happening when you have a bulging disc. The disc may bulge uniformly around its entire circumference or only a certain section of disc may be involved.
Conversely, a herniated, or slipped, disc is when the outer, harder cartilage cracks, usually in response to an injury. The crack allows the softer, interior cartilage to leak out. This condition is also sometimes called a ruptured disc. Pain is caused when the protruding disc matter bumps up against and presses on a nerve, just like when pain from a bulging disc occurs.
Keep in mind that many people have herniated or bulging discs with no related pain at all. But if you do have back pain, an MRI can determine whether or not a bulging or herniated disc is the cause of your pain.
How can chiropractic treat pain caused by a bulging disc?
One of the fundamental beliefs of chiropractic practice is that a non-invasive treatment is preferable to an invasive treatment (such as injections or surgeries). While invasive treatments may eventually be required for the most serious bulging disc cases, chiropractic can offer relief from pain for many bulging disc suffers.
Chiropractors are trained in a number of methods that can help gently stretch the spine, which may allow bulging discs to re-center themselves and give them space to resume their normal shape. The stretching can also increase blood flow to the spinal area and therefore help to relieve any inflammation. Over the course of multiple treatments, many patients may find that these chiropractic techniques, along with other techniques that are appropriate for your specific condition, relieve the discomfort associated with bulging discs.
Chiropractic can also help you avoid bulging discs & bulging disc pain
When a disc begins to bulge, it is because something isn’t right with your spine. While it is a natural part of the aging process that our cartilage will become firmer, which can lead to bulging or herniated discs, there are many ways to stave off this process or mitigate its damage. Keeping your spine flexible and properly aligned are two of the most important things we can do to avoid bulging and herniated discs, along with maintaining a healthy weight and a nutritional diet.
In addition to visiting your chiropractor for regular “well body” visits, you can ask your chiropractor for exercises and stretches to do at home to keep your spine in working order. If you spend a lot of your day sitting, standing in one place, or looking at a computer, you may also want to speak to your chiropractor about what you can do to limit the damage these often unnatural positions can do to your spine.
Did You Know?
The terms for bulging and herniated discs are not entirely standard. Here is a list of terms that are used interchangeably for these similar conditions:
- Bulging disc
- Slipped disc
- Herniated disc
- Ruptured disc
- Torn disc
- Collapsed disc
- Disc Protrusion
- Disc disease
- Black disc
What to be prepared for at your first visit:
If you think you might be suffering from a bulging disc, you can contact our offices today to make an appointment with one of our board-certified chiropractors in the Chicago area. At your first appointment, your chiropractor will do diagnostic tests to begin to get an idea of what the causes of your pain might be. You chiropractor may:
- Ask about your medical history, including any accidents or falls, no matter how long ago, and any medications you may be taking, either prescriptions or over-the-counter, including herbal remedies.
- Perform a physical examination, including checking your nerve function, reflexes, and muscle tone.
- Take or order an X-Ray or an MRI to get an “inside look” at your spine.