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What your doctor isn’t telling you about herniated discs, bulging discs and back pain

If you’re willing to do a little research about pain science related to back pain (see this study), and then broaden the search to include contradictory scientific “conclusions”…you will discover, as I have, that there is no consensus in the medical community about the definitive cause of back pain.

In this video I discuss specifically the all-too-common narrative from doctors who order MRI’s and tell patients that their herniated or bulging disc is causing their back or neck pain.

Please remember I am NOT a doctor, nor am I trying to diagnose anyone with this commentary or video. I want to share my perspective and encourage you to do your own research, draw your own conclusions and ultimately question everyone (including me!) who tries to tell you what is “wrong” with you.

There are millions of people living with herniated and bulging discs (in the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine). Some of these people experience pain, while many have no pain and lead active lives. Then…there are millions of people with “idiopathic” back pain. People with no bulging or herniated discs, nothing that shows up on an MRI, for a doctor to point to as the cause of pain.

There’s actually enough science out there for anyone to make complete sense of their pain, but few professionals have aggregated all that data and incorporate it into their practice.

Pain is the perception of danger. That’s it. You may actually be in danger (if, say, your spine is at risk due to pelvic instability). Or, you may be perceiving you are in danger because of a stressful job, traumatic past or any number of “invisible” triggers that prompt your body to react as if something is really wrong.

When it comes to back pain of any kind – whether low back pain, thoracic back pain or pain in the cervical spine or neck – I encourage you to do your own investigation and find the root cause. The cause may be purely physical, or it could be more subconscious/psychological, emotional or a combination.

On the physical level, when it comes to low back pain – your best bet is to “map” your lower body fascia to find out where you are out of balance. If your leg fascia is unbalanced, your brain may perceive that your pelvis, organs and spine are in danger…and ping you with a pain signal. Pelvic instability can absolutely trigger a herniated or bulging disc, since your pelvis is the trunk out of which your spine “grows” or extends upward. If it’s “crunched” or pulled to one side consistently it could cause a bugling disc. But the PROBLEM isn’t your spine or the disc, it’s the pelvic instability, or whatever is causing the spinal compression. To get a better understanding of what might be happening in a pelvic instability scenario you can check out this blog post.

For middle back and neck pain, you want to “map” your upper body fascia to find the root cause of pain. Release as much fascia as possible, and pay attention to what happens along the way.

And if you’re still stuck, consider that it could be more psychological or nervous system in nature. Are you in survival mode? Super stressed out daily? Worried about your safety emotionally or financially? All of these can trigger physical pain.

Have you been diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc? Share your thoughts on this below! And find relief by using fascia release to address imbalances and nervous system patterns.

  • Michele Lesser says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with people to get them (and me) out of pain and into health and freedom! I think I have a bulging low back disc, and I really appreciate your insight. I am starting to foam roll cross-wise again, and this video was more inspiration. Now, I am not so scared about my low back causing me a lack of freedom of movement and continued pain.

    I first saw your videos more than a year ago, and your quad videos got me taking walks again. I am only 51, but my right hip got so bad that I couldn’t even go for a walk. I foam rolled my quads according to your instructions, and literally 3 minutes later, I could walk with no pain!!!
    It was from an over-use injury doing repetitive motions in aerobics classes in the 80’s. My right hip actually grew extra tissue (I assume as a way to surround and protect the injured spot). The bulge was visible. I also think the right quad was pulling my ASIS forward, making my whole hip structure crooked. So I was completely sold on the cross friction process after that, and have been telling everyone who will listen about it and sending them to your sight. I am super broke, and when I start making money, I will donate to your site! I hope to eventually take your partnered Kinetics class. I am just so thankful to you!
    I was really on the foam rolling habit, and even had a chart to check off each body part to foam roll each day. But I started having more pain close to my knees, and even though I figured it was part of the process, I slowed down, and then stopped foam rolling. So I am back on it. It does seem that when I roll, that night or the next day, I am more sore, so I just need to work on those spots lightly and get some blood moving in them, and keep at it. I just loose faith too easily. It’s a process.
    So, my faith restored, I am on track again.
    My take away from this video is that the pain in my low back (and my likely herniated disc) is a symptom of something ELSE causing pelvic instability, and that I need to map out the pain in my legs to find where to start and address that, and not worry about the pain in my low back for now. Thank you so much for this logical message! I can breathe easier now, and get to work.
    I appreciate so many more of your videos too. I have helped friends and family take away their pain with the knowledge you share, and it is so gratifying.
    Sending so much love and appreciation!
    Michele Lesser, Newport Beach, California.

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