The spinal column consists of bones and intervertebral discs, both of which protect the delicate spinal cord that lies within. People experiencing problems with their neck or back may have a herniated or bulging disc. Although the terms ‘herniated disc’ and ‘bulging disc’ are frequently used interchangeably, they vary greatly.
What is the Difference Between a Herniated Disc and a Bulging Disc?
Discovering the difference between a herniated disc and a bulging disc requires an understanding as to how the spinal column is constructed.
The bone segments of the spine are separated by intervertebral discs. The outer layer of these intervertebral discs, which is referred to as the annulus wall, is tough, but still elastic enough to allow the spine to be flexible. These discs are filled with mucoprotein gel, which cushions the bones of the spine as we move. If the spinal column sustains an injury, the intervertebral discs may bulge or herniate.
A bulging disc vs. a herniated disc:
- A bulging disc — If the mucoprotein gel exits its usual area, but remains behind the annulus wall, the disc is considered to be bulging. For many people, a bulging disc is asymptomatic, which means no symptoms are present. In a case such as this, no treatment is necessary. However, some people with a bulging disc do experience a great deal of pain and/or physical limitations. As time passes, it is common for a bulging disc to progress, eventually herniating.
- A herniated disc — If the mucoprotein gel inside the disc breaks through the annulus wall, the gel may begin leaking into the spinal canal. Due to the pressure that a herniated disc puts on the surrounding nerves, this type of injury is considered more severe than a bulging disc. A herniated disc can cause extreme pain. In addition, swelling and limitations in movement are possible. A disc herniation may occur when an individual incorrectly lifts heavy objects, placing too much pressure on the back. Trauma is a common reason for a disc to herniate. Furthermore, neglecting to stay properly hydrated can lead to a herniated disc.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
When a disc is herniated, dysfunction and/or acute pain is common. Sneezing, bending and coughing may trigger or intensify the pain that is associated with a herniated disc.
Symptoms may include:
- Radiating pain in the leg or in the arm.
- Tingling, numbness, burning sensations and/or muscle spasms.
- Bladder, bowel and/or muscle weakness.
If you have been diagnosed with a bulging or herniated disc, chiropractic care may be able to help relieve some of the symptoms you are experiencing. To schedule an appointment with a chiropractor who has been providing excellent chiropractic care to newborns, young children, teens, adults and seniors for three decades, contact Dr. Allan Dellabella at Shadowood Chiropractic Center today. To schedule your appointment call 561-488-4000 or click here to use the online form.
Shadowood Chiropractic Center is located at 9799 Glades Road in Boca Raton, Florida.