What you need to know about your bulging disc

Your back is hurting, and you don’t know why. So you take to the Internet to ask your questions. But you’re inundated with medical phrases and symptoms that all sound the same — bulging disc, slipped disc, herniated disc and ruptured disc. All the new terminology leaves you wondering why the intervertebral disc so important, and how can it bulge, slip, herniate or rupture?

Here’s a breakdown of the basics to help you fully understand your condition:

 What is an intervertebral disc?

An intervertebral disc is the small, jelly-like substance that sits between each of your vertebrae. The disc acts as a shock absorber, cushioning your vertebrae, nerves and joints. When the disc is injured, it can put additional strain on the vertebrae, nerves and joints, which can cause painful symptoms such as:

  • Numbness
  • Pain in the legs or buttocks
  • Radiating pain
  • Sciatica
  • Tingling

 What types of disc injuries exist?

There are several types of conditions associated with the intervertebral disc. A bulging disc occurs when the disc bubbles out, putting pressure on the nerve root or joint. The outer layer of the disc is intact. A herniated disc, however, means that the disc has pushed past its boundary. The outer layer of the disc is not intact, which means there is a tear or rupture in the disc, leaving you with a torn or ruptured disc. Many people often refer to this condition as a “slipped” disc. 

How do you treat a bulging disc?

If you are suffering from a bulging disc or any other disc injury, schedule an appointment with your physician. You can help relieve the pain through over-the-counter medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Try using heat and ice to relieve inflammation. It is also important to stay active, as this will help your body stay limber. Consider taking part in low-impact exercises such as walking, biking or swimming. You can also participate in core-strengthening activities such as yoga or Pilates. If you find that a particular action is painful, don’t push it.

What are your tips for relieving neck or back pain?

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