Bulging And Herniated Discs
About Bulging And Herniated Discs
The spinal column is made up of 26 bones (vertebrae) and 23 discs. Discs are “cushions” that are perfectly sized to fit between two vertebrae making up the spinal column. These discs are composed of a thick outer layer of cartilage and an inner layer of a “jelly-like” substance (nucleus). Discs act as shock absorbers and allow for bending, twisting, and flexing.
Disc bulging occurs when the disc extends outside its normal space. Disc bulging is usually considered a normal part of aging. The severity of this condition depends on whether the disc is bulging into the spinal canal—when this happens, it causes narrowing of the spinal canal. Bulging discs are more common than herniated discs.
Herniated discs are often referred to as slipped discs or ruptured discs. A disc herniation is when the nucleus pulposus (the inner jelly-like substance) pushes out of the disc because of a tear or defect in the cartilage (outer layer). This can put pressure on spinal nerves.
Causes Of Bulging And Herniated Discs
Discs can bulge or become herniated as part of a normal process of age-related wear and tear; in fact, most people over age 30 will have some degree of disc problems, but most will not have pain as a result. Injury (such as a fall or car accident) can cause bulging and herniation, as can poor posture or repeated back or neck strain. Some people are also just genetically predisposed to develop disc problems.
Symptoms Of Bulging And Herniated Discs
A herniated disc is more likely to cause pain than a bulging disc. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, or burning that radiates to the neck, arms, hands, back, legs and feet, depending on the location of the affected disc. Muscle spasms or cramping can also be symptoms of disc problems.
Diagnosis Of Bulging Or Herniated Discs
Our physicians are board certified, and are dedicated to giving you a comprehensive exam that will aid in diagnosing the cause of your symptoms. Using advanced diagnostic techniques, our doctors will find out the reason for your pain, and then get you on the road to better health right away. Here are a few steps our physicians use when completing their comprehensive exams:
- We take your complete medical history to identify or rule out possible causes of your pain.
- We conduct a thorough physical exam
- We carefully review your symptoms, including how you would describe the pain (burning, achy, dull, etc.) and whether certain positions or activities make the pain feel better or worse
- We may order diagnostic tests, including MRI, CT scan or discogram, to help us diagnose your chronic pain
Once we have an accurate diagnosis, we will work together with you to create a treatment plan that will effectively address your chronic pain.
Possible Treatments For Bulging Or Herniated Discs
Treatments that we offer for disc bulging/herniation include:
- Injection therapy
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Intrathecal Pumps
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Trigger point injection
- Epidural steroid injection
- Alternative therapies
- Medication management