Discover the Difference Between a Herniated and Bulging Disc








Although often interchanged, there is a difference

between a herniated and bulging disc.  Discover the

difference and the best course of action for recovering

from both.


What is a disc?


Between each vertebrae in your spine is a cushion

called a intervertebral disc.   It is supported by a

system of ligaments that help hold them in place.


Since our backs carry and distribute weight, the discs

are made to absorb shock from the load and movement

of our bodies.  This is hard work as we walk, run, bend,

and twist each day.


Over the course of time, the discs become worn out.


A traumatic injury and poor lifestyle choices may

increase the risk for a disc problem.  This includes

repeated lifting, participating in sports, obesity,

smoking, and poor posture.  All these things

increase break down and push the disc out of it’s

proper place.


Subsequently, it is common for people to come to us

reporting a “slipped disc”.  An intervertebral disc

actually doesn’t slip out of place.  When you hear this

phrase, realize that you actually have a bulging or

herniated disc.


But, what’s the difference between the two?


Bulging Disc


When a disc bulges, the outer layer pushes out fairly

evenly all the way around.  It looks a little like a

hamburger that’s too big for its bun. At this point, the

disc is not “herniated” but this is often a precursor.


Herniated Disc


A herniated disk, on the other hand, results when a

crack in the tough outer layer of the disc allows some

of the softer inner cartilage to protrude out of the disc.

This is like a jelly donut that’s losing it’s filling.


A herniated disc is more likely to cause pain. The

irritation can be from actual compression of the nerve

or more commonly a painful inflammation of the nerve

root. Symptoms of a herniated disc may include

muscle spasm, cramping, weakness, tingling, or pain

referred down the arm or leg.



Why neither may be the cause of your pain?


The pain from a bulging or herniated disc can make it

difficult to participate in every day activities such as

walking, sitting, or even sleeping comfortably.  People

are often limited in their activities of enjoyment such

as sports, gardening, or travel.


When seeking medical guidance for this pain, patient’s

are often sent for diagnostic imaging such as MRIs or

CT scans. However, if an imaging test indicates you

have a disc problem, the disc may not actually be the

cause of your back pain.


In fact, many people have MRI evidence of a herniated

disc and have no back pain at all.  A study was

performed on individuals 60 years and older who had

no symptoms of back pain and found 36% had a

herniated disc and over 90% had degeneration or bulging

of the discs. So, even if it is found your disc is bulging

or herniated, pain only occurs if it’s pressing on a spinal

nerve or the spinal cord.


What about treatment options?


Researchers found that these people who were initially

sent for MRIs, over conservative care, ultimately paid

more for their treatment.  They were also more likely

to have surgery or injections compared to those who

first went to physical therapy.


A study conducted at Thomas Jefferson University

Hospital in 2013 found that patient’s that underwent

back surgery did not demonstrate a significant

difference in outcomes measures such as pain, health

status, satisfaction, or disability compared to

nonoperative treatments.


In fact, in all but extreme cases, a course of

noninvasive care by a physical therapist produces

better long term results than injections or prescription

medications.  Additionally, these individuals reached

their goals without the negative side effects associated

with medications such as addictive opioids.



I bet that MRI doesn’t sound like such a great idea



If you are interested in back pain treatment options

you can start TODAY from HOME for FREE.

This report will help guide you:

“7 Solutions to End Back Pain without Medications,

Injections, Special Tests, or Referrals” 


Are your ready to discuss what conservative

treatment options a physical therapist could provide

for your back pain?


Go HERE and request a FREE “Discovery Visit” where

we can identify the root cause of your pain and let you

know if physical therapy will be your most effective

course of action.


Our goal is to eliminate your pain, guide you in

returning to normal daily activities and recreation, as

well as preventing future back injuries.