Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you have any medical concerns we suggest you consult your GP.

How does a bulging disc affect muscles

(12 Posts)
pineappleeyes Wed 04-May-16 10:52:10

That's it really...physio thinks I have a bulging disc. My symptoms are muscle tightness and numbness/pins and needles in my arm. But I forgot to ask how a bulging disc affects muscles...can anyone explain please?

MatildaTheCat Wed 04-May-16 20:30:18

The muscles spasm to protect the injury. The muscle spasm can be as painful as the injury itself unfortunately. If really bad your GP might prescribe diazepam for a short while to relieve it, if I take 5mgs X 3/day for 3 days it generally works. I can't do much else, though.smile

pineappleeyes Wed 04-May-16 22:42:15

Thanks matilda. The physio I see regularly has referred me to a specialist physio. He said she has been treating symptoms not the cause. He is suggesting muscle relaxants to my go so I'll go next week & ask for them. My muscle spasms are in my shoulder blades. I think I'm struggling to see how a bulging disc would make muscles in my shoulder spasm? Isn't the shoulder muscle a bit too far away from the disc?? Does diazepam make you drowsy?

MatildaTheCat Thu 05-May-16 08:49:45

Yes, it does make me drowsy hence not being able to do much else. smile

I don't know much about the anatomy of the shoulder but ask your Physio ID she has a chart or google it...most of these muscles are huge and it's not very surprising if the pain is felt away from the spine. I get muscular pains quite far from my lumbar spine which is where my injury is. Does heat help?

MyVisionsComeFromSoup Thu 05-May-16 09:03:15

watching with interest - I have a bulging disc in my neck, also pins and needles, but the pain I get is in my upper arms (biceps?) as well as along the top of my shoulders. it's very odd.

I'm having another MRI then probably a nerve root injection apparently, but as mine has been going on for years (thanks to rubbish GP who told me if I was a size 8, the disc would slip back into place, and to just keep taking the painkillers, but not that I was taking them at the wrong times sad), that might not be enough, depending on what the MRI shows.

Can't help with diazepam, I'm taking pregabalin, amitriptyline, naproxen and paracetamol and am pretty zonked out with that.

pineappleeyes Fri 06-May-16 20:50:55

I'm back at my physio next in a couple of weeks so I will ask. I've had the problem for about four years but only want to my go in October last year as it was starting to affect my daily activities. It's getting worse not better since seeing the physio. I'll update when I've asked my physio to explain.
Yes matilda heat seems to soothe it a bit. I take cocodamol 3/4 times a day and that takes the edge of it but makes me sleepy & a bit nuts!

pineappleeyes Fri 06-May-16 20:52:01

Oh and a gp I saw said go get on with been busy everyone over 25 has back ache shock

katemiddletonsnudeheels Fri 06-May-16 20:53:52

The muscle spasms are agonising sad shock

People are rubbish about back pain. I have a prolapsed disc and it's mostly healed now but getting anybody to take me seriously was a joke!

AnnieOnnieMouse Fri 06-May-16 22:24:46

Matilda has explained it well, imo.
You may be able to release the muscle cramps with a tens machine, or with a series of acupuncture sessions. I bought the best tens machine they had in Boots at the time about £50, and was amazed at how effective it is.
Also have a good check of your posture sitting at a desk, or driving or relaxing; I found the chair in my home office was making things worse.

pineappleeyes Fri 06-May-16 22:44:14

Hi Annie. My posture isn't great but isn't the worst either apparently. I'm working on it. The physio releases the muscle cramps but a day or two later they are back. The last time I saw her she had to stop as releasing them was too painful. The next day I couldn't turn my neck to the left :-( it makes me miserable I'm getting to the point where I actually look forward to talking my pain killers. I will have a look at tens machines. I'll try anything. thank yousmile

TheUltimate Fri 06-May-16 23:08:46

I'm someone who has gone through this and still sometimes suffer from the muscle spasms 4 years on.

My prolapsed disc was in my neck (C6/7) with severe muscle spasms and affected nerves. I ended up with dehydrated discs and some degeneration of the surrounding bone.

With regards to muscle spasms, The best thing I have found is to keep relatively fit - yoga, Pilates and general cardio have all helped keep it at bay. When I was first diagnosed, I was off work intermittently for 6 months, doped up on a variety of diazepam, amytriptiline, pregabalin, naproxen and co-codamol. The best management I have found is noticing when it starts to become severe - arm numbness, loss of strength - get myself to the doctor for the meds and refer to physio for exercises. Trying to work through it and carry on as normal just drew out the process. Once I understood what was about to happen and immediately minimise activity, the spasms would disappear after only a week or so.

Like MyVision mines been ongoing for years. As its in the neck, doctors are generally reluctant to do anything invasive so you're usually told to put up. I have never been allowed nerve injections though. And similarly, I was told by an osteopath that keeping my weight at a healthy point and doing general fitness would reduce any possible flare ups. I still get stiffness and limited neck movement but probably have a flare up now around once a year.

It's hard and frustrating to live with. It's the small things - I always wear a scarf in winter to keep it warm, I don't do activity that involves bearing my weight on just arms, I sleep with 2 pillows in one cushion, and I always have spare diazepam just in case.

MatildaTheCat Sat 07-May-16 13:29:48

This Alexander Technique exercise has been very helpful for improving my posture and realigning my spine. Involves no more than lying down so not too difficult. grin

My experience of severe spainal pain and sciatica is that there is no one answer, just lots of different pieces which slot together like a difficult jigsaw to improve the overall picture. There's lots on the Back Pain support thread.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now