I Have a Bulging Disc. Does it Matter?
Have you been told you have a bulging disc by your doctor or other healthcare professional? People who receive this diagnosis may not have a clear understanding of what a bulging disc is or if they need to do something about it.
What is a Bulging Disc?
The vertebrae in the spine are separated by discs that are made of up cartilage. These discs act as cushions and are key to proper movement of the spine. A disc bulge, commonly referred to as a “slipped disc” or “disc protrusion”, occurs when the disc is displaced beyond its normal position in the spine. The disc can potentially press against the adjacent nerve as it exits the spine, which can cause back or leg pain, muscle spasms, or numbness/tingling into the legs. In severe cases, problems with bowel and bladder function (including incontinence or urine/waste retention issues), or problems with sensation in the saddle region can occur. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Disc Bulge Without Pain
So what if you have a disc bulge but you aren’t experiencing any pain or functional limitations? It is important to note that just because you have a disc bulge, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have pain as a result, or that the disc bulge will explain the pain you are experiencing. One study found that 52% of people who weren’t experiencing any symptoms ( back/ leg pain or functional limitations) had a bulge of at least one disc. If you aren’t experiencing any pain or functional limitations related to the disc bulge, then educating yourself on the diagnosis may be the only action required.
Disc Bulge With Pain
On the other hand, if you have a bulging disc and you are experiencing back/leg pain or any of the other symptoms described previously, physiotherapy can help! Your physiotherapist can give you tips for pain relief, exercises to improve range of motion and strength, and guidance to help you decrease the chance of re-injury.
If you have a bulging disc and you aren’t sure what to do about it, call one of our 3 physiotherapy clinics in Edmonton (Riverbend, Namao, or Belvedere) or our new location in Sherwood Park to book an appointment with a physiotherapist today! We’re here to help!