Bulging Disk in Neck: Major Causes, Symptoms and Best Treatment Options

Bulging disc is a common health issue which is affecting thousands of Americans hindering their day to day activities, family life and job. In fact many among these patients think that they will never ever get a solution to their problem and for this reason they continue living with the pain.

They actually start thinking that the pain will continue to grow and become worse as they grow older. Let me tell you, that you are not alone thinking this way.

Well if you are really frustrated, stop thinking this way as there are treatment options for you to deal with the problem of bulging discs or inflammation in your spinal discs. You now need not rely on medications or unnecessary surgery options which makes your life more difficult rather than giving you relief.

Before we get into detail about the best healing options let us first understand about what these discs actually are and what are the real causes of the problem. This will help you understand more about your problem allowing you to get relief in a faster manner.

What Are Intervertebral Discs And Cervical Discs?

To prevent the contact of the intervertebral bones (during movements like bending, twisting, sitting, standing, jumping, running, etc.), anatomically a small tissue is available in between the two intervertebral bones.

This natural gel like soft tissue layer (called the nucleus pulposus) is called as an inter-vertebral disc. It acts like a cushion when the vertebral bones comes into contact and helps in preventing the friction between them.

In healthy adults these gel-filled discs generally works as a shock absorbers which aids the spinal movement greatly. In case, if this disc is not present there will be regular touching (and friction caused) of the inter-vertebral bones which may lead to erosion of bones along with the compression of spinal nerves resulting in inevitable and unbearable pain.

During certain pathological conditions this inter-vertebral disc gets injured and causes immense pain. In most of the cases bulging of the disc is caused towards one side due to which one sided pain in the body part is experienced.

Some of the major symptoms observed with the inter-vertebral disc are inter-vertebral disc bulge, inter-vertebral disc prolapse, inter-vertebral disc herniation, inter-vertebral disc compression, inter-vertebral disc erosion, inter-vertebral disc thinning, etc.

Among these multiple pathological changes of the inter-vertebral disc, the disc bulging is the most common one. However this condition may affect any age it is most common in people above 30 years of age. Also it is more common in men than in women.

Also Read: Best Zero Gravity Chair for Upper Back and Neck Pain

Difference Between A Herniated Disc And Bulging Disc

The inter-vertebral disc bulge may happen in any region of the spine which includes cervical spine, dorsal spine or in the lumbar spine.

Bulging disc and herniated disc are the two terms which are often used in place of other. However these is vast difference between the two.

A herniated disc is basically a fully damaged or ruptured disc while a bulging disc is an affected disc form which eventually gets converted into herniated due to lack of proper care and treatment.

Difference Between A Degenerated Disc And Herniated Disc

Degenerated disc is a condition that describes the normal changes in the spinal disc as you age. It can occur throughout the spine, but mostly takes place in the discs in the lower back area and neck.

Reasons for degenerative disc diseases mostly include age-related changes such as loss of fluid in the discs and tiny tears or cracks in the outer part of the disc.

Herniated disc on the hand is somewhat different than degenerated disc. It is not necessarily degenerated or older. But it’s only in the bulged form which extends beyond its normal conditions.

The bones in the back spine are padded by small, spongy discs and when these discs are damages, it may break or bulge. This is referred to as a herniated disc disease and also known as ruptured or slipped disc.

This condition can take place in any region of your spine; however it is most likely to affect the lower back region. Some people have it in the neck and some rarely find it in the upper back. Herniated disc is caused by wear and tear of the disc and injury to the spine.

Here in this article, we will particularly talk about bulging disc in neck, its symptoms and few treatment options which may help you out.

What Causes A Bulging Disc and How It Happens?

Over time natural chemicals present in the spinal disc are altered which often lead to loosening of disc moisture. This further results into weakening tough outer lining of discs which are responsible of keeping the disc’s cushioning gel intact.

Or in other words, as we become older or gets injured the outer layer of the intervertebral disc gets prone to stretched more or bulged out. And when this bulging happens the disc gets wider or at times gets ruptured or herniated.

Now that you are aware of how this bulging of discs happen let us understand the real underlying causes of bulging discs. These include:

Getting Older and Aging Issues: Wear and tear of the intervertebral discs is one of the most common reasons of disc to protrude. Aging usually causes weakening of intervertebral discs, and for this very reason disc pain due to bulging of spinal discs is a normal thing that we observe as we get older. These changes in the body are unavoidable and can often lead to worse conditions like herniated disc if one does not take proper steps for leading a healthy lifestyle.

Injury: A traumatic injury to the spine or neck can be another cause of bulging disc disease in neck region. The injury occurred may be due to incorrect fast or sudden motions, blow received while participation in a sporting event, accidents, exercises that offers high stress of pressure to the spinal column, etc.

Sedentary Lifestyle: Inflammation in the spinal discs are sometimes also caused due to the poor diet or sedentary lifestyle we are used to live in. Habits such as smoking, consumption of alcohol and drugs, etc can also be a reason of high inflammations. Additionally if we are used to living in a high stress it may cause high inflammations which may result into bulging of discs at a faster pace.

Genetic Inheritance: There are number of people who are born with weak intervertebral discs due to genetic reasons. This simply means that these people already are much prone to getting disc problems when they age or get injured. This results into unusual and abnormal disc bulging. These people are also more susceptible to getting herniated disc problem which is often hard to cure.

Bad Posture: Maintaining good posture while performing our day to day activities is good for overall health. Even though we are well aware of this fact, we miss to apply this rule in our daily life. And this becomes another cause of bulging disc in long run. Lifting heavy weights, sitting and working in front of a computer, exercising, and many more day to day routines require maintenance of good posture and if not it may lead to potential strain and damages to spinal or cervical discs in a chronic condition.

Besides the above, there are many more underlying causes of bulging discs in neck and spinal region. These may include overweight problems, loss of mobility, degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, occupational or working hazards, etc.

Also Read: Best Inversion Table For Herniated Disc In Neck and Pain Relief

Symptoms of Bulging Disc in Neck

The major symptoms which confirm the inter-vertebral disc bulging in the neck region are as follows:

  • A sharp shooting pain observed in the neck region which radiates either downwards to the upper back and middle back or towards the shoulders and hands. In most of the inter-vertebral disc bulge cases the pain starts from the neck and radiates to the shoulders.
  • This pain gets aggravated by sudden heavy movements or activities of the neck and shoulders. These movements may include turning the neck laterally, lateral flexion of the neck, rotating the neck, lifting heavy weights in the hands, doing continuous works (with the help of hands, shoulders and the neck like computer jobs, writing works, surgical works), etc.
  • Besides the neck pain the person feels partial loss of sensation in the shoulders and arms of either one hand or both the hands.
  • The person with inter-vertebral disc bulge also feels numbness in the fingers of one hand or both hands depending upon the severity of the problem as well as the compression of the spinal nerves.
  • The neck stiffness can be observed with certain individuals because of which the range of movement of the cervical vertebrae gets locked or reduced partially or completely.
  • Because of the heavy radiating pain to the shoulders the person automatically reduces the workload on both shoulders and hands. This in turn reduces the range of movement of the shoulder joint as well as the elbow joint which results into frozen shoulder.
  • The person may always feel fatigue and soreness in the shoulders and upper limbs which enormously hinders the daily activities of the individual.
  • Secondary symptoms like mental depression, lack of interest in doing any work, sudden anxiety, etc. were observed with most of the chronic inter-vertebral bulged individuals.

How To Diagnose Bulging Disc in Neck?

Bulging disc in neck can be diagnosed by your doctor using the combination of certain physical examinations and imaging tests.

These may include CAT or CT scan, X rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Electromyography or EMG may also be advised for the patient in few cases for confirming the conditions of the affected nerves.

Bulging Disc In Neck Treatment

7 Best Natural Ways To Get The Relief

Often times your doctor may recommend using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen, aspirin, etc) for healing the pain and underlying symptoms of bulging disc in the neck. However it is good to know that bulging disc in neck is not a much complicated health issue and it certainly has several treatment options that can be used for relieving the pain.

According to various resources there are many who suffer from bulging disc problems without knowing about it. In simple terms, there are many people who suffer from bulging or herniated discs but do not experience pain or any noticeable symptoms at all.

Studies also reveal that although bulging discs can cause great deal of discomfort to the patient interfering their lifestyles, it can be healed effectively if one take appropriate steps to bring changes in their lifestyles. Keeping this in mind, some of the most effective and natural bulging discs treatment options include:

1. Taking Enough Rest: Conservative treatment option which includes proper rest and basic medications is one of the foremost important step for you to heal bulging discs. While your muscles and bones remains in working mode all day long 24×7 it gets weakened and vulnerable to wearing and tearing fast.

Stressed and weakened bones & joints can also cause great inflammations fast. And for this reason it is very important for you to get a good night’s sleep along with few rest breaks in the day time while you are working harder. This will help you in keeping the stress hormones under control. Overall it promotes healthy body and reduces the chances of getting injuries or inflammations.

2. Contact Your Chiropractor and Physical Therapist: An experienced chiropractor can diagnose the real causes and type of bulging disc you are suffering from. And after the diagnosis he ensures that you get the best chiropractic spinal adjustments that can help treat the symptoms of bulging discs in a faster way.  Taking the help of physical therapy and specially designed exercises for bulging disc in neck is also most recommended for faster healing.

You can get in contact with your physical therapist for to learn the best exercises that can help. You need to perform these exercises on regular basis (based on the expert’s recommendation) so as to strengthen the joints and bones and for avoiding further injuries.

3. Using Therapies Such As Cold, Heat and Massage: Usage of ice or heat packs for treating the pain sensation is one of the best healing methods for bulging discs in the neck and back areas. An application of a warm water bag or an ice pack helps to reduce the numb pain and swelling which helps in performing the normal activities as usual.

Usage of essential oils and getting the help of massage therapy also proves very helpful in curing the problem of bulging discs faster. For many of the patients who are not comfortable with massage therapy can try getting the help of Acupuncture. This is considered as a best traditional Chinese Medicine that works in combating the pain naturally.

4. Using Neck Traction Device: Usage of at-home neck traction devices for easing the nerve pressure is also one of the best possible cure for bulging disc problems in neck and cervical area.

In neck traction treatment the traction unit is fixed to the patient’s neck region in supine lying position and the appropriate weight is hanged, so that the neck will be retracted according to the weight. In this neck traction therapy the continuous pressure is exerted to the region till it is required. You can check here for detailed description of how this traction therapy works.

5. Consuming Anti-inflammatory Foods: According to medicalnewstoday.com inflammation is defined as the body’s attempt at self-protection. Its aim is to start the healing process by removing all the harmful stimuli which includes damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens. Simply saying inflammation is a part of the body’s immune response.

However research shows that too much of inflammation can cause weakening of bones, muscles and joints. This makes your bones and joints more vulnerable to getting bulging discs. Eating anti-inflammatory diet for controlling inflammation proves much helpful in this condition. Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods include green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, olive oil, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish, fruits, etc.

6. Improve Posture: Improving posture and limiting the activities that involves excessive neck and shoulder movements proves most helpful for bulging discs. Sitting for prolonged periods in poor posture may lead to arthritis. This needs to be controlled as soon as possible. You can also take frequent breaks and try out simple exercises between the working hours which helps in reliving the pain on a better way.

7. Staying Active Is Most Important: Besides the above treatment options you should stay focused on keeping yourself active and fit. People nearing to the old age may tend to experience loss of mobility, frequent bone injuries and inflammations. Keeping yourself active by performing regular exercises is thus most important at this point of life. By regular exercise I don’t mean performing the high intense workouts, but just regular walk and stretching exercises can help you out provided you do it on regular basis.

Visiting your doctor or chiropractor for getting the proper chiropractic care is often recommended if you don’t find your condition improving. In case if you have tried all the conservative treatment options for bulging disc and have failed to see any positive results, you doctor may also recommend you getting the surgery for bulging disk in neck.

Taking appropriate action, getting immediate help at the right time and taking proper rest is the foremost essential step for you if you want to improve your conditions without any risk.

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