A bulging disc isn’t a slipped disc, but it can become one. Preventing that progression is a priority for Dr. Nikesh Seth. Bulging discs can be painful and addressing them is a two-fold approach: pain management and keeping the injury from progressing. The number-one cause of a bulging disc is merely aging. The discs between the vertebrae degenerate over time. They lose their integrity and can “bulge” out from their position (and bulging discs look how they sound).
The degree of a bulging disc can vary. Although age is the most significant factor, poor posture can exacerbate it. Slouching weakens the fibrocartilage of spinal discs, which prevents them from staying in their correct position. Poor posture over time reduces disc integrity and can displace the fluid in the disc. This gives way to nerve compression which presents as pain.
However, age isn’t the only factor. Sometimes a bulging disc is caused by a traumatic injury like a car accident. Any sudden “load” to the spine can cause an injury. If you try to pick up a box that’s unexpectedly heavy, the annulus fibers can be torn, and immediate bulging or herniated discs can happen. In severe cases, these injuries may require emergency treatment.
If a person has a pre-existing annulus weakness (perhaps genetic), improperly lifts weights, is overweight, or has a family history of bulging discs, they are at an increased risk of disc issues. Some studies have connected symptomatic lumbar disc disease to bulging discs, and this disease is genetic.
In the early stages of a bulging disc, there might be no symptoms at all. Some patients discover their condition via an unrelated MRI. However, it’s usually diagnosed when someone complains of pain in the upper or lower back, arms, and fingers, or legs, or they notice numbness in their limbs or new muscle weakness. Herniated discs might compress a nerve and lead to sciatica. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact Integrated Pain Consultants today for a spinal consultation – 480-626-2552.