What is a bulging disc?

Disks act as cushions between the vertebrae in your spine.

Disks show signs of wear and tear with age. These changes can cause the outer layer of the disk to bulge out, placing pressure on the surrounding nerves which can in turn lead to pain that radiates down the back or other areas of the body.

A bulging disc is also known as a slipped disc, but is not the same as a herniated disc. Herniated discs are considered more severe than bulging discs because they put significant pressure on nearby nerves, which can cause intense pain, inflammation and difficulties with movement.

A bulging disc most commonly is caused by an awkward movement that acts as a catalyst for an underlying weakness. For instance, many people will find that they experience a bulging disc when they try bending over to pick something up from the ground. You may experience the bulging disc as a result of bending, jumping or squatting, but you may not always feel pain during these movements.

Instead, wear and tear over time can eventually lead to a ruptured disc. As we get older, our chances of rupture become increasingly great. Physical therapy plays a primary role in recovery for patients suffering from bulging discs and can be used to reduce pain and improve mobility.

Poor posture and bad movement patterns and impact/trauma can lead to a bulging disc, as well as stress, dehydration, obesity and inactivity. Poor sleep positions, or sleeping on a very soft surface can also lead to a bulging disc. Additionally, if your bed is good, then sleeping well and deeply can actually accelerate your healing.

People over the age of 65-years old are most affected by a bulging disc. Another essential factor of the aging process related to skeletal health is a drop in protein synthesis that occurs as part of the aging process.

Protein is responsible for the production of collagen, a protein that maintains the youthful look of your skin, as well as keeping our bones strong and healthy. As protein synthesis dwindles in later life, bones can no longer produce the necessary cells needed to maintain the structural integrity of the skeletal system. As a result, seniors are far more likely to develop back injuries like bulging discs, due to low collagen production.

Be Fit Physical Therapy & Pilates: 4934 Main St. Downers Grove, IL 60515, 630.964.4008, www.befitpt.com