Types of Spinal Disc Problems

Bottom Line:

If you’ve had a spinal disc problem, you know how painful it can be.

Every movement seems to hurt, and it can feel like you’ll never be back to your old self.

That pain is the body’s way of signaling you to “Pay Attention Inside Now” — it’s a warning sign from your body. It’s your body’s way of letting you know it’s been pushed past its limits.

However, with the proper care and a little time, you can get your life back.

Why it Matters:

The most common type of spinal disc problem is called a bulge or herniation, and these injuries most commonly occur between 45-65 years of age when discs are naturally more dehydrated and stiffer.

A disc bulge or herniation occurs when a disc’s inner portion is trying to (or has) pushed through its tough outer layer.

When this happens, it can cause pain in two different ways.

  • If the disc bulges far enough to press on a spinal nerve, you may notice pain that travels down your arms or legs.
  • If the inside of your disc pushes through the outer layer, it could also cause severe inflammation resulting in pain.

Next Steps:

The good news is that your spine is incredibly resilient.

Research has shown that movement-based care, such as spinal adjustments and spinal rehab, are incredibly effective at helping you heal from spinal disc injuries. In fact, exercises that “centralize” your spinal disc pain may be able to prevent future episodes of sciatica.

Some helpful tips if you are experiencing lower back pain or lower back pain with leg symptoms:

  1. Stop stretching your back for a day or two. Typically knee to chest stretching will feel good temporarily but not allow the disc to heal.  Stretching the glutes and hamstrings (or using a massage gun) without bending your back can help.
  2. Use ice for 20 minutes numerous times per day. We do not recommend heating the spine with hot packs or sitting in a spa but a shower is okay.  Instead, put ice in a Ziplock bag and apply directly on the skin at the spinal level of the pain.
  3. Don’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time without getting up and walking around for a minute or two.
  4. Walk – Walking for up to 30 minutes twice per day is helpful. Keeping moving is key.

If you have spinal pain or pain that travels down your arm or leg, let us know. Our practice focuses on using the latest research-based treatments to help you heal, improve, and regain your quality of life.


Science Source(s):

Bulging Disc vs. Herniated Disc: What’s the Difference? Mayo Clinic. 2019.

Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc. Spine-Health. 2019.

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