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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc: Understanding the Difference

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A ruptured or herniated disc in a lower back area can lead to an abundance of pain and misalignment.

When the intervertebral disc bulges, it is considered as not as serious a condition as that of a herniated disc. While in the early stages of development, it may be treated conservatively, there is a widely-staggered suspicion that it could lead to herniation down the road.

Those questions, and a multitude of others, will be addressed in this short and informative guide. Read on to learn more about bulging disc vs herniated disc.

What is Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc is a condition that is the result of degenerative disc disease. It occurs when the intervertebral discs become weak and swollen. The inner portion of the disc pushes outward through a weakened outer wall and pushes against the surrounding neural tissue.

Typically, it can be caused by bad posture, age, repetitive motion injuries, and direct trauma to the spine. Symptoms of a bulging disc include lower back pain, neck pain, and even radiating pain in the upper and/or lower extremities. 

What is Herniated Disc?

It often occurs from lifting something heavy or due to a traumatic event. Symptoms can include:

  • pain
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • weakness in the legs

The severity of the symptoms depends on the size and location of the herniated disc. It is important to get an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment to reduce the risk of long-term pain or disability.

Advantages of Bulging Disc

Bulging discs can heal over time with treatments that might involve exercise, heat, physiotherapy, and medication. In addition, treatments are usually geared towards relieving the pain associated with bulging discs, allowing patients to go about their daily lives normally. Bulging discs can often be prevented in the first place by establishing a:

  • healthy lifestyle
  • adequate rest
  • exercise
  • good nutrition

With such results, it’s no surprise that bulging discs are seen as one of the most effective treatments for certain spinal conditions.

Disadvantages of Herniated Disc

Disadvantages of having a herniated disc include limited mobility and flexibility, chronic pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs, arms, or torso, and difficulty in engaging in even the simplest of activities.

Surgery is typically required in order to repair the herniated disc, but even after surgery, the chances for complete recovery are not guaranteed.

The risk of re-injury or permanent nerve damage can remain, and long-term effects can include chronic pain and even permanent paralysis in extreme cases. 

Treatment Options for a Bulging or Herniated Disc

Treatment options for bulging vs herniated discs involve both non-invasive and invasive approaches. Non-invasive treatments are often recommended first, as they are helpful in reducing symptoms and preventing the discs from bulging or herniating further, such as:

  • physical therapy
  • targeted exercises
  • lifestyle changes

Physical therapy helps to strengthen the muscles and ligaments supporting the spine, helping it to better handle the load that is causing the discs to bulge. Exercises for sciatic nerve pain strengthens the core and surrounding muscles, which can help support the spine better. 

Explore the Differences Between Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc

It is important to be aware of the difference between a bulging disc vs herniated disc so that you can receive the appropriate treatment and prevent further damage.

If you are experiencing severe pain or not and want to understand your condition better, an organization with an experienced doctor and spine specialist for an expert diagnosis and tailored recovery plan.

Did you find this article helpful? Check out the rest of our blog for more!


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