You may have heard the terms “bulging disc” or “herniated disc” when talking to your chiropractor about back pain. It can be easy to get these terms mixed up; both involve the discs separating the vertebrae in your spine, both are known for causing serious discomfort, and both are often treated with spinal decompression. But despite some similarities, a bulging disc is not the same thing as a herniated disc, and it’s important to know the difference so that you understand the problem that your chiropractor is trying to fix.
What is a Disc?
A spinal disc is a spongy cushion that rests between each of your vertebrae. The purpose of the discs is to act as shock absorbers as well as to keep the spine stable and allow the vertebrae to move properly. Each disc consists of an outer portion called the annulus fibrosus and a soft center called the nucleus pulposus.
What is the Difference Between a Herniated Disc and a Bulging Disc?
If you have a herniated disc in Los Angeles, that means that the annulus fibrosus has a hole or a tear in it, which can cause the nucleus pulposus to be pushed out. This condition is often caused by excessive strain (such as by twisting the wrong way) or an injury. Disc material grows weaker as you get older, so over time it may only take a minor strain to cause a herniated disc.
A bulging disc, on the other hand, is simply a disc that has started to become compressed between the vertebrae, causing it to bulge out. This is a result of the disc material becoming dehydrated over time, causing it to lose its integrity. In short, while a herniated disc is often linked to an injury, a bulging disc is directly caused by age-related degeneration. Thus, while you can potentially avoid a herniated disc by practicing good posture and avoiding tasks that might strain your back, a bulging disc in Los Angeles will likely happen on its own.
How Can Herniated Discs and Bulging Discs Be Treated?
Despite their differences, herniated discs and bulging discs often respond to similar treatments. Spinal decompression is often a good option for both conditions. This procedure involves gently stretching the spine so that it doesn’t put as much pressure on your discs, giving them a chance to heal. Other treatment options may include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and steroid injections; it largely depends on the severity of your condition and how long it takes to find relief. Back surgery can sometimes be performed to treat herniated discs and bulging discs, but this approach carries its own risks and should be saved as a last resort.
Regardless of whether your back pain is caused by a herniated disc or a bulging disc, it’s important to act quickly if you want to stop your pain over the long-term. Reach out to your chiropractor today to take the first step in addressing the source of your discomfort.
About the Author
Dr. Brigitte Rozenberg has been treating Los Angeles patients for over 25 years. She is certified by the Disc Centers of America in using non-surgical decompression to treat bulging and herniated discs as well as other types of back pain. She also has developed a pain relief cream called Mineralgia, which is a safe way for patients to recover from various types of discomfort. If you have back pain that might be caused by an injured or displaced disc, get in touch with Dr. Rozenberg at The Spine and Disc Center by visiting our website or calling (310) 482-3252.