I am going to go through the common questions and statements I hear from my clients when they find out they have a disc bulge, also known as a herniated disc, ruptured disc. I am going to write these in the order that I hear the most often.
Will the disc go back in?
No! The disc is damaged and the leakage has occurred. It won’t go back in.
What is a bulging disc?
A bulging disc is when the round, fluid filled,shock absorber between each spinal bone is damaged. This damage leads to the disc changing shape, which looks like a bulge coming out from the spinal disc.
How did I get a bulging disc?
This damage and bulge is a response to your body needing more movement in that direction at that spinal disc. Let’s give the example of a right side disc bulge, think about coming up to a roundabout (Same shape as one of your discs) and you need to take the third exit (Turn right) but you find the available space to fit your car into is High and narrow! What is your body going to do, change the shape of your car, in other words the shape of your spinal bones or flatten, extend and widen the road, create more space for you to turn right, in other words form a disc bulge. Your body is trying to help you move better but the consequences are by flattening, extending, creating more space means the disc changes shape and now gets closer to the nerves that cause pain. What I am trying to say here is that disc bulges happen for a reason, your body is trying to create more movement at that specific joint, It is trying to create more movement there because it lacks the ability to take the third exit and turn right, if I can figure out why, then that’s my whole rehabilitation plan. I will never push the disc “back in” but I might be able to restore movement where you lack it and stop your need for flattening, extending and creating more movement at that disc.
Will shaving a piece off the disc fix the disc bulge?
Yes it will get rid of the bulge but will it solve your pain? In the vast majority it will help hugely and believe when I see someone that needs surgery, I will send that day. I know the massive benefits of surgery but you also have to understand how the body works and who Is going to respond well to surgery and who isn’t. If you gave me 10 random people to examine their movement I would tell who would react well from surgery and who wouldn’t. Unfortunately when you have really bad movement and a disc bulge thrown in it makes things complicated because you need to clean up the mess before the surgery. In other words you need to get ready for surgery. If you get surgery on a disc that is compensating for really bad movement and strength, what do you think is going to happen in two years? You will just get another disc bulge on the level above or below! You really haven’t solve anything, you need to clean up the body first. Don’t wait till after the surgery to see what you need to work on. Start now and stick to it after the surgery!
Why hasn't the pain gone down my leg?
The disc is not in contact with a nerve or your brain doesn’t perceive it to be.
Will walking get it better?
No, you will be still taking that 3rd exit with every step, in other words you do not change the way you walk by walking more. You change the way you walk by strengthening your body in specific positions. So stop codding yourself and thinking going around the same roundabout over and over is going to get you anywhere.
Will my back ever be right?
Of course it can improve and lead a very functioning life. Research shows that 90% of disc bulge patients' pain will ease and resolve fully and only 10% will need an operation. The most enjoyable part of my job is on the initial consultation we ask clients questions about how they function day to day. For example, if someone had back pain putting on their socks in the morning, I would randomly ask them that question in three months and they can’t remember that it even was a problem. Invest in your health, work hard and move on with your life.
Here is a true story, my second in command Stephen was away on holidays this week and I got to teach his fundamental Pilates classes. The classes are small groups of 6 learning how to do Pilates on the reformer the right way. They are slow, controlled and details classes designed so the clients can figure out how their body moves and how their body compensates. Everyone that is in the class has an existing injury, disc bulges, back operations etc, everyone is trying to figure out their own body. What amazes me when teaching it is how hard people are on themselves. Somewhat disappointment or down hearted in their inability to do some of the movements. Let me give you an example, there are 5 positions, we spend 10 mins per position, we do a number of variations of the position but pretty much we stay in the same position for the 10 mins. One client was brilliant in 3 out of the 5 positions and was getting frustrated with her inability to perform the other positions. What she doesn’t understand is she is so close to understanding what is wrong with her body, why she has chronic back pain and disc bulges but she couldn’t see it. I summed it up at the end of the class when I told her, “You have been searching for the cure for your back pain, for years you have tried to understand it, searched for the answers, heard some lies, tried a lot of different cures but nothing worked. Right there doing the last two positions your body showed you what you have been looking for! It showed you what you need to work on and now all you have to do is the WORK!” So now she has a choice to get off the roundabout, do the work and understand your body is always showing you the way you just have to see it and sometimes you need a professional to help you see it!
“If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you”