What is a Disc Bulge (Slipped Disc)?

Many clients who experience lower back pain are unaware if their pain is linked to a lower back strain or problems with one of their spinal discs. Disc bulge, also known as a slipped disc, bulging disc or disc protrusion is actually a very common injury we see at The Brisbane Spine Clinic. It is an injury to the intervertebral disc and can occur in the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper and mid back) or the lumbar spine (lower back).

Disc Bulge Explained

Common Causes

  • Lifestyle Choices
  • Poor Posture
  • Age
  • Disc Degeneration

Symptoms of Disc Bulge

  • Pain or tingling in neck
  • Radiating pain
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Sciatic nerve irritation

Common Causes of a Bulging Disc

Pain and discomfort associated with a bulging disc is often the result of a combination of factors, such as lifestyle choices and disc degeneration, rather than linked to just one isolated cause. Unfortunately, it is common for bulging discs to occur as we age. Over time, the outer fibrous containment ring of the disc starts to weaken leading to this condition. Symptoms often remain asymptomatic for long periods of time which is why it is important to be aware of the causes of a bulging disc which may lead to further, more severe problems down the track.

Lifestyle Choices

There are a number of lifestyle factors that can contribute to a bulging disc. Smoking emits toxins into the body that can accelerate the breakdown of the disc cartilage. Further, a poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise can also contribute to the onset of a bulging disc.

Poor Posture

Hunching forward, rounded shoulders, head tilted forward, these are all signs of poor posture and something many of us adopt over the years. Poor posture is a habitual behavior that can lead to repeated microtrauma on the spine. This undue stress on the spine can eventually lead to poor disc integrity. Poor posture can also lead to a muscle imbalance and increase your risk of developing a bulging disc. Learn more about how you can treat poor posture here.

Age

The discs in your spine are designed to be like shock absorbers allowing your body to be flexible. Over time, the vertebral discs start to lose water and elasticity, becoming increasingly weaker. The weight of your body eventually compresses the aging cartilage, leading to the outer layer of the disc bulging into the spinal cavity.

Severe Disc Herniation

In more serious cases, a disc bulge may herniate where the outer part of the disc ruptures and the inner material seeps out. The seeping material can then put pressure on the spinal cord, which can cause an enormous amount of pain. Herniated discs are difficult to distinguish from other spinal problems as there is a large amount of overlap with the symptoms of a disc herniation. This is why a comprehensive examination is vital to how we diagnose severe disc herniation.

Diagnosis Of A Bulging Disc

At Brisbane Spine Clinic, we aim to provide the highest level of care possible to all our patients. A comprehensive examination will be done to identify the exact cause of your symptoms before a treatment plan is put in place. The examination we perform will usually include an MRI which is the most common test to diagnose a disc bulge or disc herniation.

We may also include x-rays to show the wear and tear that has occurred on the spine, to get a more holistic view of the diagnosis.

Treatment of Disc Bulge

Here at The Brisbane Spine Clinic, we have seen and successfully treated many patients with severe disc bulge findings on MRI or CT scans. We believe a disc bulge does not necessarily mean you need to undergo surgery. We have a particular interest in helping our patients overcome these symptoms by offering non-invasive and nonsurgical physiotherapy treatment options. Surgery should be a last resort as most cases can be treated effectively using our unique, comprehensive and holistic approach.

During a comprehensive examination of your individual symptoms, our consultants will investigate and find out the true cause of your symptoms and identify all risk factors that may have developed which have led to your symptoms. A traditional medical approach is usually tunnel-visioned and inadequate to solve the complex nature of the lower back and spine if treatment is only performed on the painful areas.

If you are suffering from symptoms of a bulging disc and have not had results with previous medical treatment, contact us or book an appointment online to find out how our belief and philosophy in the way we treat spinal conditions may make a difference to achieve long-term results.

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Senior Musculoskeletal Consultant

Justin-Lin-Profile

Mr Justin Lin

 
  • B.Phty 2009 UQ
  • CSMT (Certificate in Spinal Manual Therapy) 2010
  • Kinesiotape Level 1 2010
  • M. Phty (Musculoskeletal) 2013 UQ
  • Mulligan Concept Upper Quadrant 2015
  • Mulligan Concept Lower Quadrant

Why choose Brisbane Spine Clinic

From the moment you book in for your consultation till the completion of your spinal treatments, you will realise The Brisbane Spine Clinic difference.

  • Peace of mind
  • Trust
  • Clear communication
  • Dedication and commitment
  • Highest level of care
  • Problem-solving approach
  • Second opinions
  • Non-invasive treatment