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What Is a Bulging Disc? Everything You Need to Know

what is a bulging disc

Have you been having back pain and you’re not sure what’s wrong? Did your symptoms appear after an auto accident or while you were injured at work?

Or has your doctor told you there’s a bulge in your spine? Are you wondering what is a bulging disc? If so, here’s what you need to know.

What is a Disc?

A disc refers to cushion in between the bones in your back. These bones are your vertebrae. The cushion helps absorb the stress put on the vertebrae. 

A healthy normal disc comprises soft cartilage inside with a tough cartilage exterior. Healthy discs can be damaged in an accident or through degeneration as people age. When this happens, some or all of the disc can extend out past the disc’s normal boundary which can cause a person pain, numbness, tingling, and discomfort.

The name for the abnormality in a disc depends on where and how much a disc extends beyond the normal boundary. Some of these names are bulging, protrusion, and extrusion. To make understanding these names easier, imagine an oval that is divided into four equal parts.

What Is a Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc refers to an abnormality that has caused the disc to extend out in an area over one-quarter of the disc’s outer edge (its circumference). The best way to diagnose a bulging disc is by having an MRI.

If the bulge is in the upper part of the back or neck, a person may feel tingling anywhere in their arms down to their fingertips.

If the bulge is in the lower part of the back, the tingling may be felt anywhere in their legs down to their toes. If a bulging disc goes untreated, a person’s muscle may become weak or even atrophy. 

A bulging disc treatment will probably begin with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Your doctor will then likely refer you for physical therapy.

If your bulging disc makes it hard for you to move around or the pain is debilitating, your doctor will likely suggest surgery.

What Are Protrusion and Extrusion?

Protrusion and extrusion are types of disc herniations that are more likely to have been caused by an injury.

A protrusion is when the damage to the disc causes the soft inner cartilage to bulge out into the hard exterior in less than one-quarter of the disc’s circumference.

An extrusion occurs when some soft inner material breaks through a part of the hard exterior.

What to Do If You Got Injured at Work or in an Accident

Whether you hurt your back in an auto accident or on the job, there are things you need to do to protect your rights.

If you were in a work-related accident, you need to notify your employer, immediately seek treatment with an experienced workers’ compensation doctor, and file a claim.

If you got hurt in an auto accident, you need to seek treatment by a doctor immediately and timely pursue your case against those who caused your injuries.

Find a Qualified Doctor Near You Today

Now you can answer the question, what is a bulging disc?. It’s time to find the right doctor to help you get the care and treatment you need. It’s the first step toward your recovery.

Call us today at 1-800-897-8440 if you are experiencing back pain. We are here to help you find a qualified doctor near you.