Generally when we hear about someone dealing with a disc issue in their back, we either hear the term “disc herniation” or “disc bulge”. Here at DiBella Chiropractic, we have noticed that most people aren't actually familiar with the difference between the two, despite them being completely different problems. It may seem like highlighting the difference between them is pedantic, as both are painful, but it does make a large difference when it comes to the treatment options. In order to grasp the difference, let's learn a little bit about the spine itself.
The spine has multiple parts that you need to have a basic knowledge of in order to understand the difference between herniation and bulging. The first is the disc. This is the part between the vertebrae that acts like a cushion so the bones don’t rub together. Looking closer, the disc itself has two parts. These are called the nucleus and the annulus. The nucleus is the center, which is soft and jelly-like. The annulus is the exterior part of the disc, which is a bit tougher. The annulus protects the nucleus from the vertebrae, like a hard shell. Sometimes the annulus cracks, or gets a tear in it. When this happens, the nucleus can leak out, which causes pain. If it touches a nerve, it may cause any number of symptoms, including pain or numbness. This is a disc herniation.
Bulges, on the other hand, are caused by normal wear and tear to the disc, and are often seen even if the person doesn't experience any symptoms. The main difference between a bulge and a herniation is the type of displacement that occurs. There is technically less displacement from a herniation than there is a bulge, yet the pain is normally more severe. This isn't to say that disc bulges should be left without treatment, however. Anything that involves your back will need to be dealt with sooner or later. It is always important to get it checked out by a professional quickly.
If you believe you may have a herniated or bulging disc, or are looking for a way to deal with the pain, call DiBella Chiropractic as soon as possible. We know that it can be difficult to find time to see a doctor, but your back is important to everything you do. Come in today and be amazed at how much better you can feel!