Sometimes you injure your back and it is just a strained muscle. The issue will heal itself within a week or two, and then you'll go on with your life without any lasting consequences.
But other times, the injury will be more than a strain — it may actually be a bulged disc. The initial pain and soreness for this type of injury will be about the same as with a strain or sprain, so you'll need to look a little deeper to tell the difference. Here are four signs that you bulged a disc, rather than just straining something.
When you bulge a disc, the bulged tissue often places pressure on certain nerves that come off from your spine. This can lead to a tingling sensation. Usually, you will feel the tingling just in one arm or one leg. It may be worse when you first get up in the morning but subside throughout the day. This is because movement throughout the day causes the inflammation to subside somewhat, placing less pressure on the affected nerve.
A bulged disc will also make you feel week, specifically when you try to bend over or use your back. This is again because of the pressure that the bulged tissue will place on nerves. One of your arms or your legs may also feel weak. If the injury is higher up in your back, you're more likely to feel the weakness in an arm. If it's towards your lower back, a leg will feel weak.
You probably can't feel down your spine yourself, but you can ask a friend to do it. Make sure they are gentle. As they run their hand down your spine, they might be able to feel a bump over one of your vertebrae. This will be a soft, swollen bump, not a hard one. This sort of bump is not always present when you bulge a disc, but if you do have a bump, you're definitely dealing with a bulge, not a sprain.
If you start to experience headaches after hurting your back, it is probably due to a bulged disc. The headaches can be the result of pressure on nerves leading to the back of your neck. They may come and go, or they may last a few days.
If you do think you've bulged a disc, seek treatment from the chiropractor for your back pain ASAP. They can adjust your spine to reduce pressure on the injured area, helping to promote healing.