The Truth Behind Disc Bulges

Do they slip? Can they heal? Want the answers? Keep reading!

Time and time again, we hear our clients and family members saying things like “I can’t do that, I’ve got a slipped disc” or “don’t do that, you’ll slip a disc!” or “a physio told me years ago that I can’t bend forwards again because of my disc bulge”. Sound familiar? Time to change!

Our understanding and treatment of back problems has changed over the years. But we still hear outdated language, ill-informed beliefs and advice from the past! I’m sure you wouldn’t still wear a pair of undies from 20 years ago, or if you do, they would have heaps of holes in them. So time to update not just your wardrobe but also the closet of knowledge in your brain.

Let’s get down to basics first, let’s update your undies draw. Do you even know what discs are? Simply, they are the shock absorbers of the spine, that act as a strong ligament to hold our vertebrae together. They aren’t these soft, squishy, fluid-like pockets of fluid that we were once thought to believe. Your discs are strong and robust structures. Research shows that it takes over 200kg of force to compress the disc even 1mm in our older population (Stemper et al. 2010). Extra force would have the same result in the younger population. This study was done on cadavers, hence the subjects had no active muscle activation. It's likely that even more force needed to compress your disc just 1mm! The back is made up of heaps of different joints with the discs laying in between. The purpose of joints are to let you move. We are built to move people! We are not built to stand tall and never bend. It's okay to bend.

Now let’s move to your hanging space. Your coat hangers move around quite freely. Why? Because there is nothing there to hold them together. Your back and your discs are not like this! Discs DO NOT and CANNOT slip out of place. We have bone and cartilage forming an incredibly strong connection between the disc and the vertebrae of your back, fiercely holding them together. And where would they go? We have our spinal cord, ligaments and muscles around all angles of our back meaning they can not just jump up and run away. They’re secure. They’re safe. They’re loved. Love them.

Time now to update the clothes in your drawers. Throw them all out onto the bed. All of them. Even that pre-loved jumper you’ve had there since your high school days and you haven’t worn in 30 years. Get rid of it! Lesson number 3: Discs can heal (Nakashima et al. 2015). We know our muscles, ligaments, bones and nerves can heal, so why on earth did we ever have the thought that discs couldn’t! Who knows. Yes discs can get injured, yes some injuries are nastier than others, but YES, YES, YES they heal.

And further to this, a disc ‘injury’ often happens without any pain! Pain doesn’t equal damage. So the chances of that disc bulge you had 15 years ago still being the cause of your pain is incredibly low!

All our Physiotherapists and our Exercise Physiologist are totally up-to-date with all things back-related. If the ideas above have been fresh news to you, let us help you change your beliefs and get back into control of your body.

So stop trash-talking your back and thinking it is this fragile structure that will give at any moment.

It’s strong.

It’s built to move.

It can heal.

It's time to love your back.

Time to update the wardrobe in your brain.

Book now
<< back to 'Blogs'