Bulging discs have been known to cause a lot of discomfort as well as disability in various parts of the body. A number of individuals get confused when they hear the term "herniated disc" being used interchangeably with the term "bulging disc". While the two terms are slightly related, they do not mean the same thing as will be seen further on.
A bulging disc condition typically affects the lower back region, medically referred to as the lumbar region of the spine. 90% of bulging disc conditions occur in the lumbar segments 4 and 5 which causes a lot of pain, when the disc presses on the spinal nerves located in these segments.
A bulging disc has been known to occur in the neck, where it is referred to as a cervical bulging disc as well as the middle back/thoracic spine region. A common problem associated with a bulging disc condition is sciatica. Sciatica is a very painful lower back problem which occurs when the disc presses on the sciatic nerve. Sciatica typically begins as an aching pain focused in the lower back which later on becomes unbearable pain that radiates all the way to the feet.
Aging is the chief cause of the bulging disc condition. As an individual grows older, the discs between the vertebrae experience a gradual loss in water content. As such, the disc, which acts as a shock-absorber, becomes stiff and less spongy. Because of this weakening, the outer region of the disc, the annulus, may bulge out and eventually press on the nerves that lie adjacent to it. Once the bulging disc ruptures, the inner contents of the disc tend to seep out. These contents may irritate the nerve tissue surrounding it. This condition is now referred to as the herniated or ruptured disc.
While age is the typical cause for the bulging disc condition, the condition has been known to occur in individuals who are in their twenties. Other contributing factors that may cause bulging disc include severe trauma such as that suffered when one is involved in car accident, family history of bulging disc problems as well as smoking and excessive physical activity.
A bulging disc condition can be quite painful. However, you can decrease the chances of developing the condition by learning more on which activities to avoid. Moreover, you could protect by your back by maintaining good posture, eating healthy, as well as getting regular exercise.
Once you are diagnosed with the condition, your physician will provide a range of treatments to help you heal faster. In majority of cases, a bulging disc condition will heal on its own when given rest and time. Alternative and conventional treatments such as using a heating pad on the affected area and pain, physical therapy and medication are also common, effective treatments. In rare cases where such treatments fail, your physician will recommend surgery.