Bulging Disc

A Bulging disc is one that has extended outward beyond its normal boundary due to various forms of degeneration. Should the disc impinge on the ligaments connecting the vertebrae or on nerves of the spine, pain results. A bulging disc may also result when the nucleus populous pushes outward. Disc bulges may be asymptomatic, only appearing on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Cause of injury

Age-related wear and degeneration. Stretching of ligaments connecting vertebrae. Successive strains from improper weight training.

Signs and symptoms

Back pain radiating to the legs (lumbar discs). Back pain radiating to the shoulders (cervical discs). Numbness, tingling or pain in the buttocks, back, upper or lower limb.

Complications if left unattended 

A bulging disc may not cause symptoms and may not be diagnosed without a medical scan. As a disc bulges more overtime, however, it may begin to impinge on nerves and cause pain. Sudden stress to the discs, as during abrupt movements or weightlifting, can cause rupture or herniation of the disc, a more painful condition requiring rest and rehabilitation.

Immediate treatment

Cessation of activity stressing the spinal discs. Rest and alternating ice and heat to reduce inflammation and pain.

Rehabilitation and prevention

Bulging disc often occur as a natural consequence of the ageing process, though in some cases they are a precursor to disc herniation or rupture. Bulging disc are an example of contained injury while herniated disc are considered injury while herniated discs are considered unconfined. Minimizing undue stress on the back may help avoid this injury.

Long-term prognosis

More severely bulging disc may in time rupture, causing the inner material to extrude into the spinal canal. In less severe cases, rest and ice are generally sufficient to restore pain free mobility to the athlete.

The good news is that sports & remedial massage can be very beneficial in treating bulging or herniated disc symptoms.  The type of remedial massage treatment will depend on the severity of the disc issue. In summary, the benefits of remedial massage for the treatment of herniated discs are:

  • decrease in pain and muscle spasms;
  • increased range of motion of the joints; and
  • the prevention of ongoing disc degeneration by restoring normal pelvic and spinal alignment.




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