Have you ever been told you have a bulging disc or know someone who has one? This is a diagnosis that can quite alarming and threatening for people to hear. Often this brings to mind a disc sitting out of place due to the old terminology of a slipped disc. 

Having a disc bulge or herniation does not have to be so alarming. It is important to understand what this means. The discs between the spine are similar in texture and makeup to a firm jelly encased by a firmer but thin structure. When a disc herniates the jelly substance pushes through the casing and can trigger a painful response. This pain can often settle quite easily through simple pain medications, relative rest from high load activities and keeping active with more gentle exercise.

Occasionally the herniations will contact a nerve root in your spine and give you symptoms down your leg but this doesn’t have to be the case with a disc bulge/herniation. It is important to understand that given the structure of the disc it never slips out of place and never needs to be put back into place to resolve back pain. 

Disc’s can herniate for a variety of reasons and it has often been blamed on lifting with a bent spine. While this isn’t advocated for as a lifting technique it is important not to fear bending your back long term as this is a very normal movement and not doing it can be quite harmful. It is important if you have significant back pain and particularly symptoms such as shooting pain down the leg, numbness, pins and needles or weakness to see a qualified and suitable healthcare professional to suggest appropriate management of your pain.

The advice for this type of pain should often include, don’t panic and keep moving but avoid lifting heavy loads for a short period of time. This is a diagnosis that people often cling to and let it limit them from doing more things. There is often no reason to feel this way however as we know in a large amount of cases the disc can actually reabsorb the material on its own. Also show scans show incidental disc damage in people who have no back pain.