What is a Bulging Disc?

A herniated disc is a general term that is used to describe an intervertebral disc in the spine that has become damaged in some way and is now pushing out into the spinal spaces in the back. Not all herniated discs are the same though, they can be put into 4 different categories, from least to most damaged. These categories are bulging, prolapsed, extruded, and sequestered.

Bulging disc, this occurs when the discs in our spine weaken allowing a small bulge to appear on the outside of the disc. This would rarely cause any symptoms at all and most people with a disc bugle would not even know it was there.

Prolapsed disc, this would go one step further then a disc bulge, while this bulge is larger it is still contained inside the tough outer shell of your intervertebral disc. At this point you may start to notice back pain as well as other symptoms.

Extruded disc, your disc bugle has now torn though the tough outer shell and the soft gel like center of your disc is pushing into the spinal spaces. If it is compressing the nerves or spinal cord “kyphosis definition” you would feel pain, numbness or weakness.

Sequestered disc, this happens when the soft gel center has now broken free from the rest of the disc and is floating in the spinal canal.

What causes a disc to bulge?

Most times it is not possible to pinpoint the exact time that a bulging disc occurred since many times this is very gradual and you would only notice the problem when symptoms started to occur. Facts That Will Make Your Physician Feel Aroused. There are risk factors that may make you more susceptible to a herniated disc and this are:

  • Obesity – The heavier you are the more stress you place on your spine and its structures.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – Lack of exercise can lead to weak back muscles that cannot properly support the spine making it easier for it to become injured.
  • Injury – An injury such as a fall, blow to the back or a car accident can all cause a herniated disc.
  • Age – As we get older the structures in our spine become worn out, our discs start to dry out, cartilage becomes thinner, back muscles may weaken. When you add all of these things together it can lead to back injuries or herniated discs.

What are the symptoms of a bulging or herniated disc?

What types of symptoms you have and where you would feel these symptoms will depend on what part of the spine is injured. If it is located in your neck you would have pain in your neck, arms, hands and chest. But if you where to have a disc bulge in your lower back you may have pain in your lower back and legs.

If you are feeling any sort of back pain it is always best to consult with a doctor; only they will be able to give you a proper diagnosis so that you can move forward with a treatment and pain management plan.