You’ve got back pain.
It’s bad enough that it’s affecting your work and family life, but now you wonder if you’ll ever get your life back – or if you’ll have to just deal with the pain forever.
You’re not alone.
The source of back pain is often related to your spine.
The vertebra in your spine are stacked on top of one another, protecting your spinal cord. Between each of those vertebrae are your discs. These are like cushions that help to absorb the shock to our spine as we run, jump, bend and move. Your nerves exit through holes in the sides of your spinal column and travel throughout your entire body.
However, as you grow older, your discs begin to lose their pillow-like structure, elasticity and lubricating fluid. This makes them more brittle and prone to injuries such as bulging discs.
You might find it helpful to think of them as miniature jelly donuts, just the right size to fit between your vertebrae.
You develop a bulging disc when your disc begins to protrude outside of the space it should normally occupy.
A bulging disc is is quite common. About 1-2 percent of the population have a pretty serious bulging disc.
How to Know if You Have a Bulging Disc and 5 Natural Treatments That Work
Chiropractors specialize in the mechanical function of the spine. If they suspect you may have a bulging disc, they will most-likely request an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging test). This scan creates a clear image of your soft tissues, allowing your doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis.
The good news is that you can prevent cracks, future bulges and inflammation in your spine by making a few small changes to your lifestyle. Let’s take a look at a few ways to treat and prevent a bulging disc.
1. Watch Your Weight as You Age
Your metabolism slows down by 5% every 10 years after the age of 40. To counteract this, cut about 100 calories out of to your daily diet once you turn 40.
As you get older, your body’s production of the hormones required to maintain muscle mass also decreases. When you add to the fact that many of us become less active as we age, it becomes the perfect storm for weight gain.
To counteract age-related weight gain, it’s important to incorporate strength training into your daily routine. By adding just 10 minutes of strength exercises like push-ups and lunges 5 days a week, you’ll help to rebuild your muscles and burn more fat.
2. Visit Your Local Kansas City Chiropractor for Treatment
Not only can chiropractors diagnose a bulging disc, but they can pinpoint the true cause and treat the related symptoms. After a thorough exam and X-rays, your chiropractor will deliver targeted chiropractic adjustments to specific areas of your spine to realign your vertebra and discs, alleviating pressure on your nerves and restoring normal motion.
Your chiropractic treatment may also include physiotherapy, stretching and exercises that can be preformed at home.
If you’ve already had an MRI, your chiropractic office will simply request copies be sent to your chiropractor prior to your appointment.
Chiropractors specialize in treating the symptoms of a bulging disc and can suggest a treatment plan that will keep your spine aligned to prevent injury in the future.
3. Get Moving
People who remain active well into their 40s, 50s and beyond are much less likely to experience fragility and injuries. Sitting for long periods of time actually makes bulging discs and back pain worse. An inactive lifestyle also leads to weight gain.
The simple exercise of walking can do wonders to alleviate back pain. Incorporating walks into your daily routine will keep your muscles and joints flexible and protect your back from injuries.
4. Check Your Posture
If you spend several hours a day working behind a desk, it’s especially important that you work on maintaining good posture. Here are a few ideas: 7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Posture.
Take a break every 30 minutes just to stand and stretch. This will help to reset your spine and will keep you from allowing your head to gradually lean forward in front of your body.
You may even want to incorporate a few posture exercises to keep your joints loose.
5. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Large levels of inflammation can weaken your bones, making it more likely that you’ll have disc problems. While inflammation alone may not cause a bulging desk, it can make it harder for you to recover.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are:
- fermented foods (probiotics such as yogurt and Kiefer)
- healthy fats like olive oil an coconut oil
- dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
- lean meats like grass-fed beef, chicken, wild-caught fish and cage-free eggs
Bulging disc problems usually heal within a few months. These simple lifestyle changes can make recovery quicker and do wonders to prevent disc problems as we age.
Bulging Disc vs. Herniated Disc – What’s the Difference?
Disc problems go by many names, and this can often be confusing for patients.
As we said earlier, a bulging disc is one that stretches and moves outside the normal space it should occupy. A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc, is a disc that has opened and the soft inner cartilage spills out and touches a surrounding nerve.
The main difference between the two is that a bulging disc is usually caused by pressure that forces the disc to stretch. A herniated disc, however, is usually caused by a a crack that occurs in the discs outer layer.
By being proactive and maintaining mobility in your joints, you can keep your discs lubricated, preventing future injuries and ensuring that you will continue to live a long, healthy, and active lifestyle as you age.