Difference between Disc Bulge and Disc Herniation
Burbank Chiropractor Discusses the Difference between Disc Bulge and Disc Herniation
One of the most common reasons a person might make a trip to the chiropractor is when there is some form of disc irritation that results in back pain or neck pain. So, what is a disc? A disc is a small round structure that sits in between each one of the bones in our spine. They serve as the shock absorbers of the spine so whenever you run, jump, or even sit down, the discs absorb that pressure. Inside the disc is a gel-like substance called the nucleus pulposus and on the outer portion of the disc, there is a tougher cartilage called the annulus fibrosis.
There are a multitude of factors that can play into issues with the disc. Examples of this include: heavy lifting, poor posture, trauma, poor biomechanics, heavy lifting, and repetitive motions to name a few. There are also certain lifestyle factors that play a role in disc irritation such as being sedentary, obesity, and aging. As we get older the discs begin dehydrating making them more susceptible to injury. If a patient experiences urinary incontinence, paresthesia in both legs, numbness and weakness in both arms or legs, it is suggested to see a medical provider immediately. Common symptoms of disc issues include tightness, stiffness, decrease and painful range of motion, numbness and/or tingling in other parts of the body such as the arm or leg.
Is it a Herniation or a Bulge?
Disc issues can be placed into two different categories which are disc bulges and disc herniations. Although these terms are often used synonymously, they are quite different. Disc bulges are when the jelly-like substance inside the disc protrudes out beyond its normal space. However, it does not break through the annulus fibrosis, which is the cartilaginous ring on the outside of the disc. A disc herniation occurs when the nucleus pulposus breaks through the annulus fibrosis. In other words, the jelly-like substance leaks out of the disc space. When a disc is herniated, the fluid can leak into the spinal canal or other areas nearby. Fortunately, both disc bulges and disc herniations respond well to chiropractic care involving spinal adjustments, spinal decompression, workspace modifications, and therapeutic exercises.
The initial step is figuring out what exactly was the mechanism of injury if any, and then once the problem is identified treatment can ensue. Sometimes diagnostic imaging may be ordered in order to evaluate the severity of the disc issue and can more accurately help with developing a treatment plan. X-Rays will help evaluate the bone and to see if one of the bones in the spine might be slipping forwards or backward. MRI can help evaluate the soft tissue and provide more information in regards to the disc issue.
Treating Herniated and Bulging Discs with Chiropractic Care: Burbank
In our Burbank office, we see many patients come in with Disc issues. Depending on the symptoms a person is presenting with, passive modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound and muscle stimulation might be used to help alleviate any type of muscle spasms or muscle guarding around the area. Soft tissue work can also help ease any type of discomfort and tightness. Chiropractic adjustments can help the joints move into its normal aligned position taking the pressure off the disc as well. Your chiropractor may also provide at-home exercises and stretches to help accelerate the healing process.
It is recommended that a patient with a potential disc issue see their chiropractor sooner rather than later to help evaluate the injury and establish a treatment plan moving forward. The longer a person waits to receive care for a disc injury, the longer the rehab and recovery process might take. Following the advice of your chiropractor regarding at-home stretches and exercises can also help speed the healing process. Seeking care early might also help prevent long term medication use and future surgery.
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