What Is The Difference Between A Bulging Disc And A Herniated Disc?
People with spine-related problems can experience symptoms ranging from annoying discomfort to debilitating pain. At Back to Mind Chiropractic in Hollywood & Tamarac, our integrated medical team of chiropractors and therapists have worked with thousands of people from both ends of the spectrum.
The Vertebral Disc: What Is It, And How Can It Become Injured?
A common cause of dysfunction seen at our chiropractic clinic is an injury to a vertebral disc. Vertebral discs are small, round structures that lie between the bones of your spine. On the inside, vertebral discs are filled with gel-like cartilage called the nucleus pulposus. On the outside, vertebral discs are covered with a tougher cartilage called the annulus fibrosis. A disc’s main role is to increase range of motion in the spine and provide shock absorption.
Vertebral discs can become injured due to a variety of factors, which may include:
- Heavy lifting
- Repetitive motions
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Poor body mechanics
- Poor posture
- Lifestyle factors–including smoking, obesity, sedentary behavior, and aging–can also decrease the overall health of the vertebral discs, which may make them more susceptible to injury.
What Are The Symptoms of A Vertebral Disc Injury?
A vertebral disc injury is often incorrectly referred to as a “slipped disc.” In reality, discs do not slip out of place. Rather, injury to a vertebral disc can be more accurately described as either a “bulging disc” or a “herniated disc.” These terms are often used interchangeably, however they describe different conditions.
Both a bulging disc and a herniated disc can present with symptoms including:
- Back pain
- Back stiffness
- Numbness, tingling, weakness, and/or pain in another body part, such as an arm or leg (this can happen if a nerve becomes “pinched” by a bulging or herniated disc)
What Is The Difference Between A Bulging Disc and a Herniated Disc?
Imagine vertebral discs as tiny jelly-filled donuts. The “jelly filling” represents the nucleus pulposus (inner gel-like cartilage), and the “doughy outside” represents the annulus fibrosis (outer tough cartilage).
If a bulging disc occurs, the nucleus pulposus protrudes out beyond its normal space. However, it does not break through the annulus fibrosis. (In other words, the jelly donut is squeezed, but no jelly leaks out.)
When a herniated disc occurs, the nucleus pulposus breaks through the annulus fibrosis. (In this case, the jelly donut is squeezed enough or in such a way that some of the jelly leaks out.) When a herniated disc occurs, some of the inner fluid from a disc can leak into the spinal canal and other areas nearby.
Fortunately, both bulging discs and herniated discs often respond positively to chiropractic care, which may include spinal adjustment, spinal decompression, and workspace modifications.
Looking To Get Your Spine Back To Health? Meet Our Hollywood Chiropractor
The team at our integrated chiropractic clinic in Hollywood & Tamarac, has helped thousands of people recover from injury and maximize quality of living. We use a combination of thorough diagnostic techniques, holistic therapeutic approaches, and patient education to make a real difference in our patients’ health. To learn more, call us today!