Understanding the Disc and its Function
It is important to be aware of the disc’s function in the anatomy of the spine to gain a better understanding of the condition you suffer from and in determining the appropriate treatment.
The disc is soft and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. It is made up of a gelatinous substance and is known as the nucleus pulposus. The outer area of the disc is the annulus fibrosis.
Loss of water content is a primary reason for discs to lose the ability to act as a cushion. Ove4r time, more stress and tears to the disc eventually leads to a collapsed disc thereby allowing the vertebrae it is cushioning to move closer together.
Discs are not able to repair on their own due to the lack of blood supply and very little nerve endings. As a result of this, discs become damaged due to aging and injury and the condition may be periodic occurrences, or may become a chronic condition.
What is a Bulging Disc?
A bulging disc occurs when the nucleus pulposus bulges out. The core of the disc is surrounded by annulus fibrosis or the ligaments and becomes subject to the pressure of the nucleus pulposus.
Treatment Options for Bulging Discs
Physical therapy is one of the most recommended forms of treatment for bulging discs. Once a physician has determined his diagnosis, a program will be designed that is specific to your needs.
One physical therapy method is traction. Blood circulation is very important, as it transports nutrients and minerals to promote healing. During this form of therapy, the physical therapist will pull the vertebrae allowing blood flow into the affected area.
Another form of physical therapy is massage. This also allows blood flow into the disc, promoting healing.
Stretching exercises as well as strengthening exercises are meant to make the muscles on your back much stronger.
Other therapies are also available for bulging discs such as ice and heat.
Chiropractic Therapy for a Bulging Disc
Chiropractic therapy is deemed to be another form of conservative treatment. Chiropractors look at the posture of the patient and use certain techniques to determine exact areas of restrictions. A chiropractor may refer the patient to a spine surgeon if there are unusual neurological findings, however the instance is low in this regard.
It is often recommended that before exploring surgical treatment, more conservative care should be tried due to its proven success. Although, the majority of bulging discs do not require surgery, however as symptoms and pain typically progress over time, there are those who do explore surgery. As with all surgery, there are risks and complications.
Before determining if traditional surgery is the right choice for you, it is recommended that you explore all treatment options with your physician. With the growth of medical technology, there are minimally invasive surgeries that have little to no risks or complications and have proven to be very successful.