Last year after a marathon I experienced significant lower back and leg pain. Turned out that I had two herniated discs and fairly serious nerve compression in my lumbar spine. After a disappointing experience at one of the larger PT chains, I decided that I needed something different and reached out to District Performance and Physio. I am so glad that I made that decision. As an endurance athlete, I needed something different than the usual checklist-driven approach. I needed a more thoughtful problem-solving type of approach tailored to a very active lifestyle. With TJs help, I'm back in the game. He actually listened and was constantly tweaking our exercises to build flexibility and strength at the same time.
- Steve M.
If you've been told you have a herniated disc or bulging disc in your back and are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms because of it, choose PT.
District Performance & Physio is a leading provider of physical therapy in Washington D.C. and your resource for personalized, research-powered care that can help you heal from a disc injury—and stay as active as possible throughout your recovery!
Before we continue, allow us to clear something up real quick: bulging discs aren't always "bad."
If you and everyone you know got an MRI of your spines, you'd be surprised by how many of you would see at least one bulging disc on your imaging results.
In fact, plenty of people are walking around with bulging discs yet experience no pain nor dysfunction whatsoever!
This doesn't mean a bulging disc or herniated disc can't cause problems. But it does mean that if you've been struggling with disc-related symptoms, there's probably something more to your dysfunction than "just the disc."
This is exactly the kind of nuance that our Washington D.C. physical therapist team can help you navigate. Join us and discover how!
So, What's The Difference Between a Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc? (Save This Info for Trivia Night!)
Spinal discs are special tissues found between the bones of your back. They're gel-like in the middle and tough and fibrous on the outside. Their job is to help your body absorb shock and keep the spine mobile yet stable.
It's actually normal for discs to change shape and move in response to pressure and position. But things like sudden high strain or chronic repetitive stress may cause a disc to stick out of its usual place (bulge) or tear (herniate).
Discs themselves don't have a ton of nerve endings in them, so a disc itself usually doesn't cause pain. But if the bulging or herniated disc presses against nearby structures like spinal nerve roots or joints, it may cause symptoms like:
Back pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms
Pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in an arm or leg
Pain that gets worse or moves further down an arm or leg when bending forward
Pain that gets better or moves closer to the spine when bending backward
No two people with herniated or bulging discs will have the exact same experience. But we do know that physical therapy is considered a first-line approach for nearly all people who experience this type of health condition.
What We Do to Help People Recover From Herniated Discs and Bulging Discs
We keep people moving.
It might sound counterintuitive, but avoiding activity is rarely helpful when healing from pain caused by a disc herniation or disc bulge. Research clearly shows that movement heals.
As your physical therapists, our job is to help you figure out safe and efficient ways to stay moving even as you recover—for better results and more fun along the way!
We search for root causes.
Through a personalized history and examination, as well as ongoing assessments and treatment modifications, we help you understand why you're dealing with a herniated or bulging disc, so you can avoid recurring problems.
We implement personalized, practical techniques that work.
From manual therapy that promotes anti-inflammation, pain relief, and disc healing, to exercises that build stability and stamina in your core, to education that informs you about the latest in the neuroscience of pain (including how your beliefs and mindset impact healing!), we'll set you up with a customized plan of care that helps you recover well—so you can get back to the things you love.