Bulging Discs: How Painful Can They Get?

HOW PAINFUL CAN BULGING DISCS GET?

A bulging disc is different from ruptured disc and is usually considered a normal part of ageing.

We as physiotherapists often have patients coming to our clinic who complaining about painful discs, or low back pain.

They'll say to us, 'seven years ago, I slipped a disc and I haven't been able to lift anything since', or 'I've pulled out my disc pitching a baseball years ago and I haven't been able to pitch since'.

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There are a lot of questions about bulging discs and their ability to heal and how painful they are.

WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD THAT A DISC BULGING IS GOING TO BE PAINFUL?

In 2013, one scientific study that was done wherein they took 1,200 patients who didn't have neck or back pain problems at all, as far as they knew (a.k.a. no pain!).

They went through MRI and 87% of patients came back with signs of disc bulging in their spine!

These were healthy people with no back pain at all, yet their imaging and MRI showed disc bulges!

This tells us that disc bulges can simply be a part of the ageing process, that they don't always equate to pain every time.

A bulging disc does not always mean you need to undergo surgery, it depends on your symptoms but most patients with a bulging disc do not need surgery.

Symptoms can be managed through things like short-term pain medication and physiotherapy, which is exactly what we do here at Terrace Physio Plus. 

Patients with bulging discs find their symptoms usually resolve completely in the next few weeks or months.

BULGING DISCS ARE PROBABLY NOT A SERIOUS INJURY

Although it's normal to feel anxious once learning about bulging discs, be assured that this is usually just part of the ageing process. It is nothing serious.

If you have neck or back pain and you've had an MRI or some kind of imaging that shows disc bulging, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be there forever, or even that it's going to be painful.

It is a good idea to get in a see a physiotherapist that you know and trust ASAP - the quicker these types of injuries begin rehab, the quicker we can get on top of them and get you back to moving well and feeling great!

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