Common Causes and Symptoms of Bulging Disc

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Not to be confused with a herniated disc, a bulging disc is a fairly common condition in which one of the intervertebral discs running along the spine protrude out beyond their normal limit. Intervertebral discs are made of soft cartilage wrapped in a shell of hard cartilage. When a disc begins to ‘poke’ out farther than usual, this condition is called a bulging disc. If you believe you are suffering from a bulging disc, you should take a proactive approach toward treating it; otherwise, it may grow worse over time. For a list of some of the most common causes and symptoms of a bulging disc, keep reading.

Let’s first talk about the differences between a bulging disc and herniated disc, as many people mistake the two conditions for one another. A herniated disc occurs when part of the soft inner cartilage inside the disc begins to herniate out. It’s typically characterized by moderate-to-severe pain, swelling and limited mobility. A bulging disc, on the other hand, remains intact – but the entire disc pokes out farther. Bulging discs are more common and usually occur in the lower lumbar region of the back.

Individuals suffering from a bulging disc may not always show symptoms. As long as the protruding disc isn’t pressing against a nerve or bone, it shouldn’t cause any pain or discomfort. However, bulging discs that come into direct contact with a major nerve can lead to debilitating pain. Some people wake up in the morning with a sore back and automatically assume it’s from excessive lifting the previous day, but it may actually be a bulging disc.

So, what causes this condition? The intervertebral discs running along our spine are contained and locked into place with a fibrous ring. Each disc has a durable ring that prevents it from floating away from the spine. As our bodies age, this fiber may gradually begin to wear and subside, offering less protection for our intervertebral discs. When the fibrous ring is worn down enough, the discs may float and protrude beyond their normal range; thus, leading to a bulging disc.

There are some measures individuals can take to help prevent bulging discs, one of which is to perform core and back-muscle strengthening exercises. By working out your core muscles, you’ll naturally create stronger protective rings around your intervertebral discs. It’s not a sure-fire way to completely prevent bulging discs, but starting an exercise regimen is a simple preventive measure that will lower your chance of developing this condition.

It’s estimated that around 40% of the adult population suffers from one or more bulging discs. If you”ve noticed tingling, pain, discomfort and/or limited mobility originating in your lower back region, you should schedule an appointment with your chiropractor for a checkup. They’ll be able to determine exactly what’s causing the symptoms and advise you on the best course of treatment.

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