The spine is a crucial part of our body. Any damage done can affect different parts of our body, all falling like dominoes. Bulging discs and herniated discs are common conditions that affect the spine, but plenty of people have no clue what the difference is. Are they the same? How can you tell which may be affecting you? Continue reading as we delve into all the key information you need to know about these conditions, and what treatment is available for patients.
For personalised health advice, contact our team at Excel Body & Health today.
The Key Differences Between Bulging and Herniated Discs
The important thing to understand here is: what are discs? Simply put, your spine is made up of vertebrae (bones) and rubbery discs, all stacked on one another. Together they form the spinal canal, through which the bundle of nerves known as the spinal cord can run. These discs act as protection for the nerves and vertebrae, absorbing shock.
The term ‘bulging disc’ refers to when the disc starts to weaken and sag, beginning to bulge outward and causing a ripple effect of pain. When a disc is herniated, however, there is a hole or tear in the outer covering of the disc, which can cause direct damage to a spinal nerve root inside the canal.
Causes of Bulging Discs
As we grow older, the discs within our spine begin to deteriorate. Throughout this process they begin to bulge downward, which can lead to a gradual onset of symptoms and pain. This is why the typical cause of bulging discs is simply age-related. The older you get, the more likely you are to experience pain due to a bulging disc.
As the condition develops over time, multiple discs will usually be affected. This progressive development of symptoms can cause pain throughout the back, buttocks, or legs, even affecting a patient’s ability to walk at times. If left untreated, there is potential for other issues related to disc degeneration to occur. Fortunately, treatment is readily available!
Causes of Herniated Discs
If you have a herniated disc, pain can be abrupt and unexpected. Typically, only one single nerve root is affected, and often the cause is a specific acute injury. Some patients know the exact cause that led to their injury, such as a fall or an awkward twist that went wrong. In some cases, however, someone may wake up one morning to a sudden sharp pain in their back. At times it isn’t even one specific incident at play – but years of misuse, weakening, and unhealthy habits!
While a range of different causes could be at play, there’s no need to worry. There is a wide spectrum of treatment options readily available to help patients reduce pain and heal their back, safely preventing further damage from occurring.
The Signs and Symptoms
Now, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all description of what these conditions feel like. Frankly, everyone will experience them in slightly different ways. Depending on the location of the protrusion or which spinal nerve root is affected, symptoms can greatly differ. The nature of spinal injuries also means that they can be felt throughout the whole body, due to their intrinsic role in the wider musculoskeletal system.
Initially, pain may be felt throughout the lower back and buttock regions, travelling down the backs of the thigh and even the calf. As pain radiates throughout the body, other sensations such as tingling, numbness, cramping, and muscle spasms can also be experienced. Wherever pain is primarily felt, chances are that pain will be aggravated by motion. Bending, lifting, twisting, and even sitting down can cause pain within the affected area to flare up significantly.
Benefits of Osteopathy
Whether you’re facing herniated discs, bulging discs, or another flare of pain in your spine, osteopathy can help! What sets an osteopath apart from other healthcare providers is their unique focus on the musculoskeletal system. With their capacity to understand not only the inner workings of your injury but also the broader ripple effect it will have on the major systems in your body, an osteo can offer invaluable insight.
Choosing osteopathy is choosing a holistic approach to treatment. This essentially means that you’re gaining a ‘bigger picture’ of your injury and how other areas of the body can influence and be affected by your damaged discs. An osteo will help create a tailored recovery plan that seeks to prevent further injury, benefit the body as a whole, and implement lifestyle changes. They’re there to help minimise pain and build a healthier future all at once!
Contact Excel Body & Health For a Personalised Treatment Plan
Nobody deserves to live their lives in pain. Knowing whether you have a herniated or bulging disc is one thing, but it’s far more important to get the treatment you need as quickly as possible. Here at Excel Body & Health, we have a team of caring osteopaths ready to diagnose and assess your situation. Reach out today and we’ll start building a recovery plan together, working towards a healthy and functioning future.
Related Link: The Principles Of Osteopathy