What is a Bulging Disc?
Before you can understand what bulging disc is it’s important to understand what your discs are. Essentially, the disc in your back and spine act as cushions between your spine and vertebrae. They are round in diameter and flat on the top and bottom and are securely attached to the vertebrae above and below them. These discs are made of a mixture of a soft inner layer and hard outer layer. A bulging disc occurs when the disc pushes out of its normal position and begins to invade the space of your spinal nerves. There are different kinds of bulging discs, some causing much more pain than others. In fact, the variation of bulging disc is so great that some people never know they have one, while other people have so much pain it affects their quality of life. If you are experiencing pain from your bulging disc, it is likely concentrated on one side of your body. This is because they usually bulge towards one side of the canal, whether that be right or left. Bulging Disc can occur anywhere along your spine ranging from your neck to your lumbar or lower back.
What is the Difference Between A Bulged Disc and Herniated Disc?
What Causes A Bulging Disc?
A bulging disc moves outside of the space it would normally be located in. The bulging affects a large portion of the disk, usually extending at the hard outer layer of cartilage. A bulging disc is extremely normal as it’s considered a natural aging process, although it does have different levels of severity. A herniated disc happens when a crack in the hard cartilage causes the inner soft tissue to come out. Herniated discs are much more likely to cause pain, but just like bulging disc, in many cases, they don’t.
Most commonly caused by aging
Performing repetitive lifting, bending, driving, and standing
Using improper lifting techniques
Having a family history of disc problems
Participating in contact sports
Car accidents or any kind of severe trauma
Participating in excessive drinking or smoking
What is the Best Treatment for A Bulging Disc?
There are a variety of different treatment options for bulging disc. In general, treatment methods include bracing, medications, chiropractic, physical therapy, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, injections, and occasionally surgery. We also highly recommend correcting your posture as a great treatment method and preventive measure for bulging disc.
If the pain you’re experiencing makes even moving difficult, a physical therapist may be helpful in your recovery. A physical therapist can assign stretches and exercises directed at improving your range of motion. Physical therapy is often very helpful for developing better posture.
Chiropractors will help you determine the kind of bulging disc you’re suffering from and even the underlying causes. Chiropractors focus on the realignment of the spine for treatment. These adjustments could potentially include flexion-distraction, muscle stimulation, physiotherapy, and at home treatments.
Anti Inflammatory Diet
High levels of inflammation will weaken your bones, muscles, and joints. The higher levels of inflammation, the more likely you are to deal with bulging disc problems. Foods to incorporate into your diet include leafy green veggies, coconut oil, and olive oil.
Doctors most often treat bulging discs with some type of steroid injections to control the pain and symptoms. Roughly 10 percent of people who suffer from bulging disc will get corrective surgery. Thankfully, for most people surgery is needed as disc problems will usually heal within just a few months especially if you take active steps towards recovery. If you are having surgery done on your bulged disc read below to learn which braces work best in postoperative situations.
Braces for a Bulging Disc
To treat a bulged disc through bracing you will want to use a brace with a stabilizer in it. This means that a rigid anterior (back) panel is necessary for the treatment of a bulging disc. Depending on the location of your bulged disc there are a variety of different brace options. If your lumbar region is injured you will need a short brace focused on stabilizing your lower back. If you are having problems with your thoracic back the best brace option for you will be longer. These braces will help to stabilize and immobilize your back.
Braces for Cervical Bulged Disc in your Neck:
If you’re experiencing a bulged disc in your cervical spine (or neck) here are a couple brace options for you.
Cervical Neck Brace - This brace is highly adjustable making it customizable for different individuals needs. It helps to fight sharp and sudden pains while also keeping your cervical spine immobilized. In addition, this brace works great in post trauma and operative situations because its main purpose is to stabilize the affected area. If you are considering surgery for your bulging disc this brace makes a wonderful post-operative brace.
Neck Immobilizing Collar - This braces main focus is to immobilize. If you’re suffering from a painful bulged disc in the cervical spine this brace will limit flexion, extension, and rotation of your neck.
Braces for Bulged Disc in your Thoracic Spine (Mid and Upper Back):
If you’re experiencing a bulged disc in your middle back, or thoracic spine, here are a couple brace options for you.
Thoracic Kyphosis Brace: This postural extension brace works to treat a variety of injuries because of its ability to stabilize your back through limiting motion. This can be used to treat bulged disc, compression fractures, kyphosis, and osteoporosis among other things. This brace works great in pre and postoperative surgery care. If you are looking to get surgery on your thoracic bulged disc this brace will help to immobilize the area before and after.
Comprehensive Spine Stabilization Brace: This brace is ideal for a bulged disc in the thoracic spine as it is specifically targeted to stabilize your midback. The compression applied to the area through this brace is extremely comfortable and user-friendly, making it a great option for less painful cases of a bulged disc.
Brace options for Lumbar Spine (Lower-Back) Bulged Disc:
If you’re experiencing a bulged disc in your lower back or lumbar spine, here are a couple brace options for you.
Degenerative Disc Back Brace: This brace features a pulley system that makes it easy to compress and support your lumbar spine, making it a great treatment option for a variety of lower back issues. The panel support easily conforms to your body, offering great stabilization for your lumbar region.
LSO Lumbar Back Brace: The main focus of this brace is to reduce pressure on the lumbar spine in order to ease the pain, making it a great fit for a lumbar spine bulged disc. The best part is that the pulley system allows you to control the amount of compression being applied, so it’s a can treat a variety of severity of bulging disc. This brace is highly recommended in postoperative situations should you have surgery on your bulged disc.
Proper Posture for Prevention and Treatment for a Bulged Disc
Proper posture, when seated, standing, walking, lifting—you name it, is important for both preventing injuries to the back and for bulged disc treatment. Poor form when lifting is a common cause of a bulging disc. Read BraceAbility’s proper lifting techniques blog to prevent these injuries from occurring. The Industrial Back Support Belt can also add support and promote correct form when one is lifting.
Sitting hunched over for long periods of time can cause the discs in your spine to become compressed. Slouching can also overstretch your spinal ligaments and strain your disc. If you are looking for a brace to improve your daily posture, check out this adjustable posture corrector. The brace gently pulls your shoulders back and trains your muscles to have proper posture. Good posture has additional benefits such as higher energy levels, migraine relief, prevention of back and shoulder issues, support for already existing chronic back pains, and much more. View more posture correcting braces.