Diagnosis and Treatment of a Bulging Disc is Not Out of Reach
A bulging disc is a common complaint that needs to be addressed when symptoms first appear. Many people attempt to shake off the pain and symptoms they experience with a bulging disc. However, this can lead to more serious repercussions that require invasive procedures to promote healing. A bulging disc can easily transform into a more painful herniated disc that requires surgical intervention.
Unfortunately, a bulging disc can be difficult to diagnose without a proper assessment. Having a formal diagnosis of your bulging disc is imperative if you want to receive the best possible treatment. Experienced chiropractors have all the tools at their disposal to diagnose your bulging disc and help you to take the first steps toward recovery.
Diagnosing and treating a bulging disc is not out of your reach. Take a closer look at just how the process works from start to finish.
Diagnosing a Bulging Disc
A bulging disc can present with a wide range of symptoms depending on the severity of the injury. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your chiropractor:
- Pain that intensifies when sitting, bending forward, coughing, sneezing, or lifting
- Numbness or the feeling of “pins and needles”
- Leg pain
Based on the symptoms you exhibit, a chiropractor may have a hunch that you are suffering from a bulging disc. They should take a thorough history of both your injury and the type of pain you present with. This allows them to narrow down the type of injury you have and proceed forward with a formal diagnosis.
The actual process of diagnosing a bulging disc can be extremely challenging, even for experienced chiropractors. Many of the diagnostic tests used for other conditions won’t show a bulging disc. The disc itself is formed of tissue, which renders an x-ray machine useless in this scenario. Experienced chiropractors also know that CT scans aren’t as effective at diagnosing a bulging disc.
The best course of action to determine whether your pain is caused by a bulging disc is to have an MRI completed. When done properly, an MRI gives your chiropractor a clear glimpse at what is going on with your spine.
Treatment Options for a Bulging Disc
When most people hear this term, they automatically assume that they will need surgery to put the disc back in place. This is an extreme form of treatment that should be viewed as a last resort. There are plenty of other options that you should try before scheduling this invasive type of surgery.
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Diet
One of the first lines of treatment for a bulging disc is over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. This lessens the overall inflammation that is aggravating the pain you are experiencing. While these can help relatively quickly, there are more natural ways to lower your inflammation for good. Understanding inflammation and how it is promoted is the first step toward healing.
Keep in mind that your diet plays a huge role in how inflamed your body will be. Consider consuming more foods with anti-inflammatory properties, including:
- Green leafy vegetables
If both of these methods fail to reduce your inflammation and pain, you may want to consider a cortisone injection. Be sure to find a doctor experienced in administering these injections because they can have some serious side effects. Because of the risk associated with these steroid shots, there is generally a limit to how many you can have. You can usually receive up to four of these shots each year.
A chiropractor should be your very first stop when it comes to treating a bulging disc. They are well-versed in different forms of treatment that might help you to heal naturally. With their bulging disc diagnostic tests and procedures, they should be able to give you an informed opinion on whether you truly need surgery to fix your bulging disc.
You may wonder whether adjusting the spine could cause more damage to your disc. Fortunately, studies are showing that this is actually a rare occurrence. According to research by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, spinal manipulation has a low risk of worsening a herniated disc.
Chiropractors can offer spinal adjustments that may relieve the symptoms of your bulging disc. However, they also offer advice on lifestyle changes that could lead to a pain-free back and neck. With just a few simple modifications to your daily life, you might experience less pain from your disc issues.
After trying chiropractic care, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. The role of physical therapy is to strengthen the muscles in your back and abdominal areas. When your core muscles are strengthened, your spine is more stable and less susceptible to injury. In addition to core strengthening exercises, a physical therapist is likely to give you a stretching regimen to help with tight muscles.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, physical therapy may also help your mobility. They can help you to get back to your former level of activity. One study demonstrated that physical therapy and pain medication yield the same long-term results as a surgical intervention. It may be a longer process to achieve this state of wellbeing, but it could be worth it to avoid surgical measures.
Non-Invasive Treatment Options for a Bulging Disc
Research points to the fact that natural remedies can be just as effective as surgical intervention when it comes to treating your bulging disc. Make sure that you are visiting an experienced chiropractor like Dr. Brent Wells at Better Health Chiropractic in Juneau. The quality of your care matters, and it could dictate whether you will ultimately need surgical intervention.
While it may be a challenge to diagnose and treat a bulging disc, help is well within your grasp. Take advantage of some of these therapies to help you alleviate the pain of your bulging disc.
Dr. Brent Wells is the founder and leading chiropractor at Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab. Originally from California, he holds his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College in Oregon. He founded Better Health in 1998 and has become an important part of the medical community in Alaska. In his spare time, he enjoys being with family, reading, and spending time outside.