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  • Cherry Health Center

Bulging Disc vs. Herniated Disc: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever had back pain, you know it can be excruciating. One of the most common causes of this type of pain is related to problems with your spinal discs. Two common types of disc problems are bulging and herniated discs. So what’s the difference between the two? In this blog post, we’ll explore both bulging and herniated discs and what sets them apart.



1. What is a bulging disc?

A bulging disc is a condition that occurs when disk material protrudes past the normal boundary of the disc. This type of disc issue is often asymptomatic, meaning you may not even know you have it. In cases where bulging discs do cause symptoms, it is usually due to the disc’s protrusion causing nerve root irritation or compression.

2. What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs when the outer layer of a disc tears or cracks, allowing the inner gel-like substance to leak out. When this material comes into contact with nerve roots near the spine, it can cause severe pain. Unlike a bulging disc, a herniated disc typically causes more significant pain levels due to the irritation and compression of nerve roots.

3. What are the symptoms of each type of disc problem?

While both bulging and herniated discs can cause pain, there are some differences in the symptoms associated with each. People with a bulging disc may experience no symptoms or may notice tingling and numbness in the affected area. On the other hand, a herniated disk can cause shooting pains that radiate from the affected area and may even result in muscle weakness.

4. What are some treatment options?

The majority of bulging and herniated disc cases can be treated with conservative methods such as stretching, physical therapy, and medication. In more severe cases, however, surgery may be a likely recommendation with many doctors and tell you it’s necessary to alleviate pain and restore function. In general, the treatment approach often depends on the severity of the problem and the patient’s overall health. No matter the severity, at Cherry Health Center our system of therapy can get your mobility back and get relief, WITHOUT surgery. We’ve helped thousands of patients avoid surgery and get back to their lives.

5. How can you prevent disc issues?

While it’s impossible to guarantee you won’t experience problems with your discs, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and practicing proper lifting technique are all excellent ways to keep your back healthy and avoid disc issues.

Bulging and herniated discs may seem similar, but they are two distinct conditions that require different treatment approaches. It’s essential to understand the differences between the two and be aware of the symptoms associated with each. Knowing how to prevent disc issues and what to do if problems arise can help you stay pain-free and maintain a healthy back for years to come.

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