Disc Bulge or Herniation: What’s the Difference?

Disc Bulge or Herniation: What’s the Difference?

Bottom Line:

The bones, discs, ligaments, and muscles of your spine are designed to help you maintain proper spinal alignment, posture, and movement. There is a small rubbery disc between each set of bones or vertebrae. These discs act as small shock absorbers for the vertebrae and nerves that come out of each spinal segment.  They have a tough, rubber-like outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a soft jelly-like center that is called the nucleus pulposus. As you age, the curves of your spine can fall out of alignment or there can be direct injuries to the discs through trauma like lifting heavy objects or in car accidents.  As a result, this can place uneven stress on your spinal column and discs, increasing the chance of having a disc break down and either bulge or herniate.

Why it Matters:

A disc herniation occurs when the outer portion of the disc ruptures (or tears) and the soft inner portion squeezes out. This type of injury can cause pain at the site of herniation, or sometimes the herniated disc can pinch a nearby nerve, causing pain that can radiate down into your arms and legs. Similarly, a disc bulge occurs when the outer wall of the disc is weakened, but the inner portion has not yet broken through.

  • A disc herniation occurs when the inside of a spinal disc breaks through its outside wall.  Bulges can occur when pressure increases within the disc but the contents remain in their respective areas. 
  • Disc herniations often contribute to nerve compression, which can send pain, weakness, or numbness into your arms or legs.
  • By maintaining proper spinal alignment, you can reduce added wear and tear on your discs and potentially decrease the likelihood of a disc herniation.

Next Steps:

Now that you know what a disc herniation is, be sure to stay tuned.  Next week, I’ll reveal the best ways you can find natural and effective relief.  Can you guess what type of care resulted in over 90% of people with a disc herniation finding improvement within the first few months?  Stay tuned…