What causes bulging disks in your lower back?
And what are bulging disks, anyway?
The bones of your spine are stacked one on top of another. In between the bones are jelly donuts. The donuts are tough on the outside and have jelly on the inside. Those jelly donuts are your disks.
If the jelly squeezes through the tough outside of a disk it is called a rupture. The jelly can press on nerves and cause pain down your leg or hip.
If the jelly stays inside the disk but the disk shifts out of place it can also press on nerves. That’s called a bulging disk.
What causes disks to rupture or bulge?
Well, it could be from a violent accident such as falling off a bridge. But, more often (thankfully!) a disk is moved by your muscles.
Why do your muscles move disks?
That’s how bodies work. Bones and disks cannot move on their own but when muscles get ‘too tight’ or ‘too weak’ or out-of-balance the muscles allow the bones and disks to slip or move out of place.
The disks don’t really ‘slip.’ It’s more like they are pulled or pushed out of place by muscles. They actually are!
There are strong muscles on either side of your spine and along the length of your spine. There are muscles that attach from your thighs to your spine. If they get too strong or tight on one side or the other they pull on the disks and spine bones.
If those same muscles get weak or stretched, they cannot hold the spine bones and disks in place.
Too strong or too weak means out-of-balance. So the goal is to keep all of your muscles in use and in balance.
Yoga is a very good way to use all of your muscles. Yoga makes muscles long and strong all over your body.
Any type of balanced movement program can help you get rid of your bulging disks.
Wait! Movement can help a slipped disk?
You bet! Disks can move back into their natural location if you take the pressure off them. If the too-tight muscles are stretched or relaxed, the pressure on the disk and spine gets less.
But can a ruptured disk heal naturally?
My understanding is that often after a period of time the disk will seal and heal itself naturally. The ruptured jelly will shrink and cause fewer symptoms.
And if you can get to a therapist who can help you release and relax those tight muscles within a period of a few weeks after a rupture occurs, the jelly can slip back into the disk.
You might need the help of a neuromuscular massage therapist or physical therapist to help get your muscles back into balance. I have seen people go from having lower back pain to being pain-free in a matter of several weeks when they had the appropriate muscle therapy.
“A matter of several weeks” might sound like a long time to you but recovering from back surgery can take a long time, too. And since the cause of lower back pain is often caused by muscles many back surgeries failed. That’s why fewer are done now.
And sometimes it feels like a slipped disk today but after sleeping or sitting in a different way, it’s magically gone in just a few days. It takes just a hair of pressure on a nerve to cause nervy pain. A slight corrective movement can change things quickly.
Bodies heal all the time. That includes spines, too.
Watch your posture because poor posture is a big player in causing bulging disks in lower backs.
And if you are overweight you might seriously consider losing weight because that will help take pressure off your muscles, disks and spine.