5 questions (and answers) to ask about a bulging disc in your neck.
by Jay Greenstein
1. What is a bulging disk?
The discs are the cushions between each of the spinal bones, or vertebra. When healthy, they are made up of a fibrous outer portion, the annulus fibrosis and a gelatinous center, the nucleus polposus, in similar design to a jelly donut.
Whether through chronic repetitive stress or acute trauma, the outer portion can tear allowing the jelly to push out towards the spinal cord and nerve roots. In some instances, the bulge can break through the annulus completely and result in a herniation of the nucleus.
2. What are the typical symptoms of a bulging disk?
A bulging disc in the neck can cause local neck symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling, as well as symptoms into the arm on one side or even in both arms depending upon the location and severity of the disc.
In addition to pain, numbness and tingling, other symptoms in the arm can include weakness in one or a group of muscles, again depending on location and severity of the disc bulge. Symptoms can also go into the upper back as well.
3. How is the golf swing affected by disk problems?
Pain will cause individuals to compensate movement patterns that affect the spinal tissues adversely. In many situations, golfers with a history of neck pain are reinforcing faulty movement patterns which lead them into more severe disc issues.
The goal for the golfer experiencing symptoms due to disc problems is to reduce pain and inflammation as quickly as possible and at the same time seek out a functional solution to ensure that the positive outcome attained through proper conservative treatment is maintained in the long term.
Once proper treatment has occurred and the golfer is ready to resume playing, making sure that they have been evaluated for proper swing mechanics and having a total body functional movement screen can be very beneficial to reduce the probability of future injuries.
4. How can doctors of chiropractic help golfers with disk injuries?
Doctors of Chiropractic are well trained to evaluate and treat spinal disc problems. According to the scientific literature, a multi-modal approach to treat these conditions seems to fare best. Doctors of Chiropractic are leading experts in spinal manipulation, Flexion Distraction Technique, spinal decompression and a variety of other manual techniques that can reduce pain and inflammation in the neck.
Doctors of Chiropractic can also prescribe and perform physiotherapy modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation and low level laser therapy. Active exercise and rehabilitation techniques, soft tissue treatment and activity of daily living counseling are also managed by Doctors of Chiropractic and play an important role in functional improvement and long lasting positive outcomes.
In many cases, Doctors of Chiropractic can all but eliminate the need for more invasive procedures such as spinal epidural injections and surgery, which have less scientific support.
Just as important, Doctors of Chiropractic understand the need to refer for advanced imaging and/or medical intervention when appropriate. For disc problems, they are critical component of the healthcare team and can get golfers back out on the course again.
5. What are some basic exercises golfers can do to prevent injury?
Because each golfer has their own individual biomechanical needs and issues, there isn’t necessarily a “one size fits all” exercise for golfers. The smart golfers who really take injury prevention seriously seek out trained professionals to get an accurate assessment of their musculoskeletal system.
Many Doctors of Chiropractic are Certified Golf Fitness Instructors through Titleist Performance Institute and can help golfer get on the road to health, wellness and fitness and stay there!
About the Author
Dr. Jay Greenstein
DC, CCSP, TPI CGFI
CEO, Sport and Spine Rehab
Chiropractor of the Year (2007), Maryland Chiropractic Association
Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner
Certified in Graston Technique
Titleist Performance Institute Certified Golf Fitness Instructor
Dr. Greenstein is a Maryland native. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the National College of Chiropractic, and earned his post-graduate degree in Sports Chiropractic at the Logan College of Chiropractic.
In addition to maintaining his private practice as CEO of Sport and Spine Rehab, he has served as a recommended provider for the National Football League (NFL) Players Association and for the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens. He has also been the Official Team Chiropractor for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders since 1997.