Your spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae. 24 bones are moveable and 9 are immovable. All 33 are divided into 5 sections and they’re referred to as Cervical (neck), Thoracic (middle of your spine), Lumbar (lower back), Sacrum (hip area), and Coccyx (tailbone). Between each moveable vertebrae are lumbar discs that act as shock absorbers when bending, twisting, standing, walking, and even sitting.
Lumbar discs are made up of a jelly-like substance in the center (nucleus) which is protected by a tougher, rubbery exterior (annulus). They stop the bones of the spine from rubbing against each other while evenly distributing pressure to absorb the impact of the body's movement.
However, if a lumbar disc is damaged, deteriorating, or compressed without breaking or rupturing, it is called a bulging disc. This can eventually cause reduced mobility, pain, numbness, and tingling in your back and lower extremities. Which often leads to Sciatica.
If you have been diagnosed with bulging discs, there are many natural chiropractic treatments to restore movement of the spine and help you understand the symptoms, causes, and treatments for a bulging disc to prevent the condition from worsening.
What is a bulging disc?
Normally, a lumbar disc is shaped to fit perfectly between the bones it cushions. However, a bulging disc, also known as a protruding disc, is a condition where the tough outer wall of the disc (the annulus) becomes weak and starts to squeeze out from its location between the bones of the spine.
Think of it as a tower of blocks with a miniature jelly-filled balloon fitting perfectly between each block. Now picture putting pressure on the top block which would cause one or more of the balloons to protrude out the side of the tower. That is how a bulging disc would appear as it protrudes out from its original location.
Often a bulging disc can occur with no symptoms leaving you unaware of the disc’s weakened outer wall which could lead to further deterioration such as a herniated disc. However, a bulging disc can also put pressure on nearby nerves which creates a variety of sensations such as pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness.
What is the difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc?
A bulging disc is a misshapen disc that pushes out of its normal position between the bones of the spine. Whereas a herniated disc is when the tough outer layer of the disc has cracked allowing the nucleus (jelly-like substance) inside to squeeze out.1
As the soft cartilage inside the disc leaks out, it can cause severe pain as it can often extend further than a bulging disc and is more likely to irritate the nerves around the spine. Both conditions however can limit mobility and movement of the spine due to pain, irritation, and a lack of shock absorption between the bones.
Often a bulging disc that is left untreated will lead to the disc eventually herniating (rupturing), therefore, it is essential to seek treatment immediately before further deterioration can occur.
What causes bulging discs?
Age is the number one cause of bulging discs as the structure of the disc becomes weakened over time. However, they can occur at any time throughout your life due to injury, overuse, illness, or degenerative diseases. Other potential causes for a bulging disc include;
- sedentary lifestyle and smoking
- heavy lifting and strains
- trauma such as a car accident
- poor posture
- high contact sports or activities such as football
Most people over the age of 30 have at least one episode of back pain, and often this pain is the result of a disc problem2 such as disc bulging.
Can bulging discs be prevented?
Although a bulging disc often develops over prolonged periods of time, there are ways to help prevent the deterioration of the discs. This also includes treatment to help restore the structure of the disc itself through chiropractic care.
- Stay Hydrated - Lumbar discs are weakened by dehydration so stay hydrated by drinking 8 or more cups of water per day
- Exercise Regularly - Strong core and trunk muscles help stabilize and support your spine
- Maintain Good Posture - Keep your back straight and in a neutral position, especially when sitting for extended periods such as when at work
- Lift With Your Legs - Avoid bending over to pick up heavy objects and instead squat and use your leg strength for lifting while keeping your spine straight
How can chiropractic care help me?
Chiropractors are trained in all aspects of human body structure from bones and muscles to nerve and disc health. This allows them to get to the root cause of your bulging disc and treat the body as a whole to help prevent further flare ups and deterioration of the disc.
Gentle spinal and whole-body adjustments performed by a licensed chiropractor at Spine Stop Chiropractic allow the body's systems to function correctly by removing blockages, pressure, and inflammation. This allows your body to heal naturally while strengthening the spine to help prevent future occurrences and pain.
Studies show that 80% of the patients who receive chiropractic care for disc bulging and herniations receive good clinical outcomes with 67% seeing a return to normal disc function or completely reabsorbed disc herniation.3
Chiropractic Benefits for Bulging Disc Include:
- Natural, effective pain relief
- Strengthens your body’s main support structures
- Helps prevent future flare ups
- Restores movement and mobility
- Proactive care to support disc health, blood flow, and overall body wellness
- Education and lifestyle recommendations to enhance healing, balance, strength, and more
If you or a loved one are suffering from a bulging disc, our doctors here at Spine Stop Chiropractic can help restore your quality of life and get you back to the activities you love.
Contact us today for a consultation with one of our doctors and discover the natural way to walk away from lower back pain.
We understand that not everyone is familiar with chiropractic care, so all new patients receive a consultation, examination and if necessary, an x-ray. Then our doctors will review your condition and walk you through an easy-to-follow treatment plan that’s unique to you.
There’s no pressure when you visit our office. Our friendly staff want to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.
- CDC-Workplace Health Promotion-Workplace Health Strategies-Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders & Ergonomics-https://www.cdc.gov/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke- Low Back Pain Fact Sheet- https://www.ninds.nih.gov/
- BenEliyahu DJ. Magnetic resonance imaging and clinical follow-up: study of 27 patients receiving chiropractic care for cervical and lumbar disc herniations. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1996 Nov-Dec;19(9):597-606. PMID: 8976479.
The information on this page is intended for informational purposes only. We put this page together to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of the benefits of chiropractic care. This page is not meant to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.