A bulging disc is an incredibly irritating and painful condition; the pain can severely affect a person’s ability to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
The good news is there are ways to prevent and treat a bulging disc conservatively; It only takes a willingness to commit to altering your lifestyle a bit.
1. Get some Rest
Don’t wreck your recovery efforts by not getting enough sleep after a strenuous workout in the gym or doing household chores. Your muscles, bones, and joints, need a break. This break helps to reduce inflammation and the likelihood of weakening a spinal disc. Experts recommend adults get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. It’s different than bed rest, which is not an approved treatment for bulging or herniated discs.
2. See a chiropractor for spinal adjustments
Chiropractic care is a popular choice among patients suffering from a bulging disc pinching a nerve. It is noninvasive and does not require treating pain with pills, injections or other controlled substances. After a chiropractor has determined the type of bulging disc, they will develop a treatment plan which could include spinal manipulation to gently stretch the spine to take pressure off of the spinal nerves and increase motion. Other treatments a chiropractor may prescribe are flexion-distraction, muscle stimulation, physiotherapy, supplementation and at-home stretches and exercise.
3. Visit a physical therapists
Find a little help if the pain from a bulging disc makes it difficult to move around or work. A physical therapist can develop a routine of stretches and exercise to help you regain your range of motion, strength, and flexibility.
Continuing to perform these exercises and stretches is a great way to strengthen the back and prevent another injury from occurring.
4. Apply heat and ice
While heat and ice are complete opposites, they form a formidable tag team of therapy. Heat increases circulation and soothes sore muscles while ice reduces swelling and inflammation to help reduce pain. A physician or physical therapist can tell you what to use and how to use it.
5. Stay active
Staying active throughout life is a significant factor in slowing down symptoms of aging, such as bone loss, injuries, and inflammation.
People sit more today than they have ever done in the past, and it takes a toll on the musculoskeletal system, resulting in spinal injuries, such as a bulging disc.
It doesn’t take much. Take a walk. Walking each day helps to maintain flexibility, strengthens the core and keeps the weight off, preventing low back pain.
Engaging in activities such as walking, jogging, swimming and weight-bearing exercises and stretches can strengthen muscle and reduce pressure on the spine. Always speak with your physician first before starting an exercise regimen to determine if it is appropriate for you.
6. Stand up straight – Correct your posture
Muscles extend from the top of the head all the way down to the bottom of the feet. It’s called the posterior muscle chain, and each muscle connects to the spine in some way. Stretching these groups of muscles frequently is essential to recovery and prevention.
Sitting for an extended period can tighten these muscle, which pulls on each other and the bones they are attached to, such as the spine. These forces can weaken the vertebrae and cushion-like discs in between, resulting in a condition like a bulging disc.
If you’re sitting down most of the day at a job or watching TV, it’s important to take several breaks throughout the day. Every 20 to 30 minutes stand up and perform stretches and exercises that target the posture and loosen up the muscles in the lower back, neck, and hamstrings.
7. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
What effect do high levels of inflammation have on the bones, muscles, and joints? It weakens them, making spinal injuries, such as a bulging disc or herniated disc, harder to recover from and may intensify painful symptoms.
The key is to control inflammation in the body by choosing healthy foods to combat pain. Avoid foods like added sugar, processed meats, refined grains, alcohol and packaged snacks. Instead, focus on eating nutrient-dense foods to promote healing and to help reduce inflammation and control weight gain.
- Leafy-green vegetables, such as spinach and kale,
- Healthy fats from nuts and oils like extra virgin olive oil
- Lean proteins from grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish
- Fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha, which contain probiotics.
A major contributor to inflammation in the body is also a result of smoking/recreational drug use and not getting enough sleep. So, avoid these to lower your risk.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a bulging disc and none of the conservative treatments seem to be working, contact the BioSpine Institute to learn more about what surgical options are available.