What is a bulging disc?
A bulging disc has many other names such as a slipped disc, protruding disc, herniated disc, ruptured disc. It is a common injury to the spine’s intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers between your spinal vertebrae. It commonly occurs in the lumbar spine (low back) but it can also occur in the thoracic and cervical spine (middle back, upper back and neck). A bulging disk can irritate a nerve where it exits the spine and can result in pain, weakness, cramps or spasms, and altered sensations such as pins and needles in the area of injury, however, can also refer to further to the arms and legs.
How is a bulging disc commonly treated?
It is common to treat a disc bulge with heat and lifestyle modification such as time spent sitting, duties at work and appropriate lifting. In the acute or early phase after injury, it is important to give your body rest to allow any inflammation to subside while encouraging gentle movement through activities such as light walking. An exercise program to improve strength, flexibility, posture and teach your body where it is in space (proprioception) can be extremely effective in reducing symptoms and aiding in return to work, daily activities and hobbies. Other treatments include physiotherapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and pain relief medication.
How can an Exercise Physiologist help?
An Exercise Physiologist can help by understanding your lifestyle and suggesting ways to modify daily activities that may be contributing to the bulging disc. In addition, an Exercise Physiologist can prescribe an individualised program to suit your body and needs with exercises focusing on improving posture, strength and flexibility. An exercise physiologist will help you implement pacing strategies to prevent relapse while slowly and safely reintroducing activities into your weekly routine.