If you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc in your back, you may be wondering if that disc will eventually herniate. A bulging disc is certainly a precursor to a disc herniation, but does that make the condition an eventuality? In today’s blog, we explain why you’ll want to actively treat your bulging disc so that it doesn’t lead to a more serious herniation in the future.
How Bulging Discs Herniate
As you can probably guess by the introduction to this blog, a bulging disc won’t always turn into a herniated disc, but it can if you keep doing the same things that led to the bulge in the first place. If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc, you’re at a crossroads. You can either work hard to strengthen your spine and avoid a herniation, or you can keep going down the path that could easily lead to more spine pain.
Since you’re on our blog, we assume you want to treat your bulging disc and avoid bigger problems. Here’s how you can do that.
1. Controlled Exercise – Exercise can help to strengthen your spine and increase vertebral segment stability, which will prevent excess pressure from being put on your discs. Obviously you need to be smart about the way you exercise, though, because high impact exercises like running can actually worsen the condition if you’re not careful. Consider activity that is less stressful on your spine, like swimming or walking on the elliptical. Controlled exercise can do wonders for helping a bulging disc heal.
2. Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is a close cousin of controlled exercise. Targeted physical therapy will use specific stretches and movement techniques to strengthen areas near the affected disc, again helping to take stress of the bulging disc. Working with a physical therapist will ensure that the right areas are targeted and that you’re not inadvertently overstressing the area that you’re attempting to strengthen.
3. Weight Loss – You can also help to treat a bulging disc by working towards a healthy weight. Your spine and your spinal discs are tasked with absorbing and dispersing the stress of your body weight. That’s obviously a less stressful task if it need to disperse less pressure. The more you weigh, the more stress that must be dispersed. Conversely, if you lose weight, there will be less stress on your discs and a reduced likelihood of herniation.
4. Rest – Rest shouldn’t be your only treatment option, but short-term rest can help give your spinal discs time to heal. If you regularly perform the same physical tasks, it can overwork certain areas of your spine. Give your spine some rest from repetitive activities or work to improve your posture so that actions aren’t as stressful on your spine. Rest should be combined with other actions on this list for maximum results.
5. Surgery – In about 5-10 percent of cases, surgery can get out ahead of the problem and prevent a future herniation. Oftentimes conservative techniques prove successful, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least go over your surgical options if it could be in your best interest. Reach out to Dr. Chang’s office if you want to learn about all your bulging disc treatment options.