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Four Common Disc Problems and What to Do About Them


By: Kiara Holmes, ATC

Back problems plague much of our society today. You may know someone who suffers from back pain, or it may be you yourself. While several factors contribute to different types of pain, disc issues are a category of their own. First, what is a disc? A disc in your spine is a section of cartilage that resides between each vertebrae. It consists of thick fibrous tissue surrounding gel matter that allows for flexibility and shock absorption. Your discs aid in shock absorption that occurs with low or high impact movements in daily life, as well as providing some flexibility within the spine.

Common Disc Problems:

  • Degenerative Disc Disease: A break-down or wear-and-tear of the disc caused by age, obesity, and lifestyle.
  • Bulging Disc (4 levels):
  1. Disc protrusion- The matter inside the disc slightly protrudes, but is still greatly encapsulated by the outer fibrous tissue.
  2. Prolapsed Disc- The matter inside the disc bulges into the surrounding fibrous tissue, creating a bulb like shape in the disc.
  3. Disc Extrusion- The matter inside the disc has been pushed out of the disc.
  4. Sequestered Disc- The matter that was once just extruded, now is detached from the rest of the matter and can float freely.
  • Disc Compression: Due to constant pressure coupled with poor posture, the disc loses height and gets compressed between vertebrae.
  • Spinal Stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal which can come from the previously mentioned problems: Bulging discs and degenerative disc disease.

How Do the Symptoms Present Themselves?

Because the spine contains a host of nerves that affect the upper and lower limbs, it’s common to have back pain along with pain that radiates to different body parts. If it’s a mild bulge, you may experience back pain only. However, if the disc is bulging far enough, people complain of pain radiating to the buttocks, upper and lower legs, and feet. However, bulging discs in the cervical spine, (which are less common) may cause radiating pain, numbness, tingling and/or burning to the shoulder, arm and hands and fingers.

How Can Loudoun Sports Therapy Help?

Our therapists are trained in addressing factors contributing to your spinal issues. Whether it’s from poor posture related to work, daily life, or tight and weak muscles leading to imbalances that affect the spine, we can help. It’s important to have proper mechanics taught and evaluated if it’s a major cause of pain. Call us TODAY at 703-450-4300 to come in and get evaluated! We’d love to help you live pain free! CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.


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