Bulging discs are common in adults and often associated with lower back and leg pain. Most often, the discs herniate (bulge out of place) in the lower back, also called the lumbar spine. Sometimes, discs bulge near the cervical spine.

Although leg and lower back pain are not alone sufficient to assume you have a bulging disc, you should pay special attention to the following symptoms:

  • Weakness

Muscles that receive signals and energy from the respective disc’s nerves will begin to weaken. Notice if you are developing tendencies of stumbling or failed capacity to lift and hold weight or objects.

  • Arm and leg pain

Herniation in the lower spine can manifest as pain in the lower body, specifically the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet. Herniation near the neck can manifest as pain in the upper body, including the shoulders and arms. In both cases, you might notice intensified pain upon twists or coughing.

  • Numbness

The same areas that get affected by muscle weakness might experience a sensation of tingling or numbness. Do not avoid these tell-tale signs of a herniated disc!

Again, these are the common symptoms of bulging discs; they are not alone enough to diagnose a herniated disc. Bugling spinal discs can only be diagnosed by an MRI. If you experience pain in the arms and legs, and it is accompanied by numbness or tingling, it’s time to see a doctor and get an MRI.

Here are additional disc insights to bear in mind when diagnosing your lumbar health:

  • Some bulging of discs is normal and nothing about which to be concerned. Throughout the day, the water content discs fluctuate. Depending on when you get your MRI, the spine might show some natural filling of fluid, making it appear that discs are bulging, even if only slightly.
  • The body is compromised when a disc is injured enough to obstruct its nerve tissue. When the nerve tissue is affected, its attached muscles and function will be affected, resulting in larger issues in the body. If the bulging disc is not imposing on any nerves, it might not be problematic in the patient.

What causes my discs to bulge?

  • Age-related disc degeneration is the most common cause of herniation. As the body gets older, discs lose their water content. Without protective fluid, the discs are left without great flexibility and become subject to rupturing.
  • Lifting from the back instead of from the legs and thighs can severely increase your likelihood of herniated discs.   
  • Overweight patients are prone to placing too much stress on the discs, causing them to slip.
  • Some patients with herniation are burdened by genetics that presents a predisposition to developing bulging discs.
  • Occupation-based disc herniation is also common; if your job requires you to lift and twist often, you might develop this condition.

What are my options for bulging disc treatment?

  • Avoid heavy lifting, jumping, bending and sitting for too long at a time
  • Eliminate processed foods from the diet
  • Practice bulging disc exercises. Try lying on the back and tucking the knees into the chest or take an assisted bridge position for a few breaths at a time.
  • Consider using an inversion therapy table- you will want to ask your chiropractor about this option.

If you think you might have a bulging disc or bulging discs, don’t hesitate to come and see one of our specialists at BackFit Spine + Health. We can readily assess your spinal health and determine the course of action to take to keep you feeling healthy and limber.