When we talk about a spinal disc, what we are actually talking about is a structure in your spine. The spine is made up of many bony segments called vertebrae and the structure in-between these segments are called your intervertebral discs (i.e. spinal disc).
The human body has been designed so that all of these discs are strong and sturdy, they are able to hold the entirety of your body weight. Yet are pliable and flexible, to allow your body to move around and get through your day.
It has a solid and strong exterior ligament component which provides stability and support, whilst there is a soft centre called the nucleus, which gives shock absorption of your body weight and for the various activities that you perform in a day. You could liken the disc to be a solid but gooey “lava-cake” sandwiched between crispy waffles.
When people say you have a spinal disc bulge, it primarily refers to a bulging out of the disc, or the lava-cake after prolonged periods of time under weight, or through repeated movements in the spine (typically bending forwards). These factors lead to a bulging out of the gooey content of the disc beyond where it would normally be contained. This may lead to other nearby structures getting squished and compressed, resulting in pain which increases in intensity with certain movements (particularly bending forwards), including numbness or pins and needles depending on where the bulge has occurred.
You may then think, what can I possibly do to fix and push the bulging bits back into position? What else but surgery is likely your first thought.
Actually, contrary to this thought, research has found that besides surgery, which may or may not benefit you, the key to managing and as a result treating spinal disc bulges is through specific corrective stretches, changes in posture and graded exercise.
Although the injury may be shared amongst numerous people, we are all individuals with different goals in life and different bodily demands throughout the day and thus require specific exercises tailored to you. Physiotherapists are the go to people for the right type of exercises suited to you to not only offer pain relief, decrease disability, but even teach your body strategies to protect itself from further injury.
If you have been suffering from a spinal disc bulge and would like to find out more about how our Physios can help you, press the button that’s below.
This blog was written by Paul Yik, Physiotherapist from the Melrose Park practice.