Normally when we hear something about a back disc issue, we hear the term “disc herniation”. While the term “bulging disc” is also used, most people don't seem as familiar with the phrase or with the difference between the two. It can seem like the difference between them doesn't really matter, but we can assure you that from a treatment standpoint, they do. To understand the difference, it is important to remember what you know about the spine itself.
The spine has multiple parts that you need to know to understand the difference between herniation and bulging. Let's start by talking about the part between the vertebrae that acts as a cushion so the bones don’t rub together. This is called the disc. The disc itself has two separate parts, called the nucleus and the annulus. The nucleus, as you may be able to guess, is the center. It is soft and often compared to jelly. The annulus is the exterior part of the disc, and is a bit tougher. This is because it has to protect the nucleus from the vertebrae. Sometimes, however, the annulus cracks or gets a tear in it. When this happens, the nucleus can “seep” through and cause pain. If it hits a nearby nerve, it can cause anything from pain to numbness in almost any part of your body. 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 with one doesn't feel any pain. The main difference is the type of displacement that occurs between a bulge or a herniation. Without getting too in depth, there is actually less displacement from a herniation than there is a bulge, and yet the pain is more intense. This isn't to say that disc bulges should be allowed to continue to get worse, however. After all, anything involving your back will more than likely become serious after a short period of time. It is always a good idea to get it looked at sooner rather than later.
If you believe you may have a herniated or bulging disc, or are looking for an alternative to suggested surgery, call DiBella Chiropractic as soon as you can. We know that it can be difficult to find time in your daily life, but when it comes to your back you should never leave things to chance. Come in today, you may be amazed at how much better you can feel!