Lower back bulging discs are a common problem in middle aged groups. This is largely due to the bone degeneration and stiffness that accompanies aging, particularly in people who do not follow a fitness program. Scientific research has demonstrated that people who exercise on a regular basis experience less back problems than those who don’t.
Bulging discs have a variety of causes with excessive lifting, bending and lifting being the most common. However, they can also be the result of obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, engaging in repetitive movements, and athletic injuries. Once in a while, a minor movement such as picking up a lightweight load will cause a bulge. But in most cases, this movement has been preceded by a long history of improper lifting, bending and twisting techniques.
What physicians refer to as the lumbar spine contains many bones known in the medical profession as vertebrae. Between each two vertebrae is a disc. The disc comprises a core of a gelatinous substance enclosed in layers of connective tissue. However, the connective tissue can tear resulting in the core protruding from the disc. When this occurs, it is called a lumbar disc bulge or a lower back bulging disc. It usually involves the lowest disc of the spine or the one immediately above.
Bulging discs are usually diagnosed by an examination, either by a doctor or physiotherapist. The patient will also be given an MRI or CT exam so the health care provider can be sure of the diagnosis.
Some bulging discs can be successfully treated in a matter of a week to ten days. The is particularly true if the patient is active and exercises regularly.
Treatment involves pushing the disc back into its original position and maintaining that position until the surrounding connective tissue has had an opportunity to heal. Some bodily activities will hold the disc in position while others tend to thrust the disc back out again. So the level and type of activity in which the patient engages plays a major role in the recovery process. A patient who engages in more activities that tend to push the disc out will recover at a slower rate than the patient who engages in the activities that hold the disc in place.
Movements such as bending forward, lifting, excessive sitting, sneezing, and coughing will push the disc out. Sneezing and coughing are involuntary and beyond the patients’ control, however, patients can avoid lifting, sitting for long periods of time and bending forward.
The disc is held in place by such movements as walking with the back held straight, sleeping in bed with back straight and certain exercises.
The patient’s motivation in following the assigned exercise program is also an important factor in recovery time. Finally, the patients recovering from a lower back bulging disc can expect a rapid recovery if they adhere strictly to their exercise program and carefully follow the health care provider’s instructions. But failure to do so will result in more pain and slower healing.