Well, rather than confuse you more, I am going to give you my simple, easy to understand definition.
A Herniated Disc is simply a protrusion, or sticking out of the disc. Think of a disc as a balloon being held in place between your hands. If you push your hands together unevenly, the balloon will bulge out on the opposite side. This is what happens to the disc between the vertebrae.
A Bulging Disc is the same thing as a Herniated Disc, just a different name.
Herniated discs are probably one of the most common diagnoses for back pain and are often used when a doctor can't find an explanation for the person's pain. Similar to a doctor explaining away various aches and pains as arthritis.
The problem is, many people who are diagnosed with a Herniated Disc don't have pain because of it. For years, research has shown that in many cases, people live with Herniated Discs yet never have any back pain or symptoms. The point is, if you've been diagnosed with a Herniated or Bulging Disc, it may not be what's really causing your back pain!
Even if you've had x-rays and MRI's done that show a Herniated Disc, chances are still very good that it's not the problem. So read on to learn more and find out what's causing your back pain.
So what causes a disc to Herniate?
Well, many people want you to believe it's old age, excess weight, stress, poor genetics, or how you lift a heavy object.
While these are all potential factors, the biggest factor or cause is uneven pressure placed on the disc. Yes, you read that right, uneven pressure on discs is the biggest cause of Herniated Discs.
Remember we talked earlier about the uneven pressure? Well, months and years of this uneven pressure causes discs to breakdown.
Do you have any idea what causes this uneven pressure?
It's something so simple that it amazes me how many people, including the experts (Orthopedic specialists, Chiropractors, Physical therapists, etc) fail to recognize it.
So what is it? ... Muscle Imbalances.
You see, muscle imbalances pull your bones and joints, especially the pelvis and spine, out of place and this places excess and uneven wear and tear on the body.
This is where Chiropractors come in.
The whole concept of Chiropractic care is to manually move the bones and joints back into the proper position.
Makes sense right? WRONG! Why? Because the same muscles that pulled those bones and joints out of place to begin with, will do so again, usually within days.
The ONLY way to address muscle imbalances is to first identify them. Then you work on correcting them with the right combination of corrective exercises and stretches. Any treatment that fails to include this formula is doomed to fail!
So when does a Herniated Disc actually cause pain?
Typically, a Herniated Disc will cause pain when it is putting pressure on a nerve or nerves and this pain is usually felt down the backside of the leg. However, occasionally individuals experience pain in the disc itself or the area around it.
How do you know then what's causing your back pain?
Whether your pain is in the disc or shooting down your leg, I am willing to bet that it has something to do with muscle imbalances.
In my opinion, it always makes sense to start at the beginning. So the first thing to do is identify what muscle imbalances you have and then begin to work on correcting them.
DON'T try things like ultrasound, electrical stimulation or cortisone shots and then feel disappointed that they didn't work. How can they? Remember that they don't address the root cause of the problem!
I am not saying that these types of treatments don't have a place, it's just that they will not give you the long-term relief you are looking for. For example, ultrasound may be helpful in conjunction with a corrective exercise and stretching program but it's not likely to do much on it's own.
The real key is to not only treat the symptoms, but address the cause of the problem also. You can learn more about how to identify and correct your muscle imbalances in our video, "Lose the Back Pain".
In it, we take you through a series of self-assessments in which you'll identify which specific muscle imbalances you have. We then show you step-by-step instructions to correct them in our Corrective Action Plans. All you have to do is follow the instructions and in weeks, maybe days, your back will be feeling great again.