Bulging discs are a common condition that occurs when the spinal discs protrude outwards. This can lead to compression of nearby nerves, producing back pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms or legs.
Approximately 40% of adults over age 40 have at least one degenerated vertebral disc. By age 80, 80% of them do.
Traditional treatments like painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, or surgery usually don't provide the desired effects in patients. That is why there is a growing need for alternative treatments.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the most efficient non-invasive options to alleviate their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Signs of Herniated Disc
A herniated disc occurs when the soft jelly-like center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the tough exterior. This can result in severe pain, numbness, or weakness in the area where the affected nerve travels. Recognizing the signs of a herniated disc is crucial in seeking appropriate medical treatment.
Symptoms can vary depending on the location of the herniated disc and the severity of the condition.
- Pain that occurs on one side of the body.
- Sharp pain in one part of the leg, hip, or buttocks and numbness in other parts.
- Muscle weakness.
- Numbness and tingling in the affected area
- Pain or numbness on the back of the calf or sole of the foot.
- Arm or leg pain is often described as a sharp or shooting pain
Usually, symptoms of a herniated disc worsen with certain movements, such as bending, lifting, or twisting. Coughing, sneezing, or sitting for long periods of time may also exacerbate the pain.
If you experience any of these signs, it's important to seek medical evaluation from a healthcare professional. A physical examination and diagnostic tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
Symptoms of Bulging Disc:
A bulging disc and a herniated disc are not the same; their symptoms can be similar, but herniated disc is a more serious condition.
The main difference is found in the tough outer layer of the disc, the annulus fibrosus, which will be completely ruptured in a herniated disc, and the jelly-like interior protruding into the spinal cord. But in the bulging disc, the jelly-like interior is still fully encased in the outer layer, even though the outer layer is bulging beyond its usual borders.
It's important to note that the symptoms of a bulging disc can vary depending on the location and severity of the condition. In some cases, the symptoms may be mild and intermittent, while in others, they may be constant and severe.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What Causes Herniated Discs?
- Sudden movements, such as lifting a heavy object or twisting the spine. Sometimes, just a strong sneeze can produce a flare-up of symptoms.
- Aging and natural degradation of the discs: the body ages, the discs naturally lose water content and become more prone to herniation
- Traumatic events like car accidents or falls can put excessive pressure on the discs, causing them to herniate.
- Other factors that can contribute to the development of herniated discs include genetics, smoking, obesity, poor metabolic health, or occupational hazards.
-From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, herniated or bulging discs can be produced because of a weakness in Kidney and or Liver Function.
Acupuncture Can Help Bulging or Herniated Disc
Acupuncture has been used for millennia to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and promote the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers.
It modulates the nervous system and releases neurochemicals that help to alleviate pain and promote healing.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can significantly reduce disc pain and improve function in patients with herniated discs, making it a valuable complementary therapy to conventional treatments.
By addressing the underlying pain and inflammation, acupuncture can help to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for those suffering from this condition.
How does Acupuncture Work?
The needles are strategically placed to target the affected area, helping to reduce inflammation and alleviate pressure on the surrounding nerves.
This can lead to improved mobility and a decrease in symptoms like numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected area.
Acupuncture can also strengthen the muscles and tissues surrounding the disc, leading to improved overall spinal health.
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for bulging discs.
TCM offers a holistic approach to healing and improves the overall quality of life for those suffering from this common spinal issue.
Electroacupuncture for Bulging and Herniated Disc
Electric acupuncture is a modern way of applying acupuncture; it was developed in China in 1934 and has been shown to effectively reduce pain and inflammation associated with bulging and herniated discs.
Electroacupuncture utilizes a low-frequency electrical current to stimulate the needles, creating a stronger and more consistent therapeutic effect. This method is more efficient in mitigating symptoms and preventing potential herniation.
Studies like this one: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1003525721000507
have shown that electroacupuncture can significantly reduce pain and improve the range of motion in individuals with bulging and herniated discs.
Chinese Herbal Medicine for Bulging Disc
Chinese Herbal Medicine is the Queen of Chinese medicine.
In Western countries, when people think of Chinese medicine, they think of Acupuncture, but in Asia, most people know and understand that herbal medicine is the queen of medicine.
The lumbar disc herniation, or the cervical disc herniation, is not caused by mechanical problems in the cervical spine or the lumbar spine.
The degenerative condition is also produced by metabolic issues in the body. Usually, it is a combination of poor digestion and circulatory constriction.
The efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is that Eastern Medicine focuses on treating the root cause of the problem rather than focusing only on treating common symptoms like muscle spasms, sciatic pain, etc.
When there is an acute herniation and a clear structural issue, it is more important to address the symptoms with acupuncture treatments or other physical therapies, but after the acute pain has gone or for chronic conditions, it is highly recommended to use herbal medicine to treat the metabolic issues that allowed or accelerated the structural damage.
Back Surgery vs Natural Treatment
Back surgery should be the last option, only necessary in extreme conditions.
The natural options are less invasive ways to address the issue.
Back surgery is often recommended for patients who have exhausted all other treatment options and continue to experience debilitating pain, but back surgery is not without risks. It can be a costly procedure, and there is always the chance of complications, such as infection or nerve damage.
Recovery from back surgery can also be lengthy and may require a significant amount of physical therapy.
Also, surgery is not a guarantee of eliminating your severe pain and coming back to normal daily life.
Many people find relief from acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, etc. These methods have fewer risks and side effects than back surgery. However, natural treatment methods may not be effective for everyone, especially those with severe structural issues in the spine.
Ultimately, the decision between back surgery and natural treatment methods should be made in consultation with a medical professional.
You Don't Have to Suffer with Chronic Pain We Can Help
Chronic pain can be debilitating; it can affect every aspect of a person's life.
Whether it's from a past injury, a medical condition, or an unknown cause, living with chronic pain can be incredibly challenging.
There are a variety of treatment options available. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has been working and evolving for thousands of years.
Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and the proper changes in your diet can produce a huge positive change in your life.
It's important to seek professional help if you're struggling with chronic pain. Consulting with a medical professional who specializes in pain management can help you identify the root cause of your pain and develop a personalized treatment plan that suits your needs.
The most important thing to remember is that there is hope.
You don't have to let chronic pain dictate your life. With the right combination of treatments, support, and a positive mindset, you can regain control and live a fulfilling life, free from the constraints of chronic pain.
Don't hesitate to reach out for help - there are solutions available, and you deserve to live pain-free.
Chinese medicine has a long history; it is more than 2,000 years old, and millions of patients use it daily all over the world for a reason.
It is very expensive to produce systematic reviews and proper studies. If no one big company makes money from Chinese medicine, no one is going to finance this type of study, which is why it is hard to find good literature-based studies in English.
Even though it is complicated, we can find many studies that support the use of Acupuncture and herbal medicine; here we have a few examples:
- "It can be concluded that the traditional Chinese medicine Yiqi Huoxue decoction can promote the resorption of herniated intervertebral disc, and its therapeutic effect is particularly significant for ruptured intervertebral disc herniation."
- "Traditional Chinese medicine treatment for ruptured lumbar disc herniation: clinical observations in 102 cases."
- Research Trends of the Research and Development of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Therapy on Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Bibliometric Analysis.
- "Effect of traditional Chinese exercise combined with massage on pain and disability in patients with lumbar disc herniation."
What to Do Now?
From Soul Acupuncture & Herbal, we recommend:
1- Look for help from your primary care provider and find out the root cause of your pain.
2- Once you have a proper diagnosis, you can choose the best way to treat it.
3- After you have ruled out any acute situations, it is time to find a good Herbalist and Acupuncturist team.
4- Once you have found the right Acupuncturist and Herbalist, stick to the plan, follow the treatment, and be patient. As a rule of thumb, it can take one month for every year you have been in pain.
Please contact us at Soul Acupuncture & Herbal to get more information.