What’s the Difference Between a Bulging Disc and a Herniated Disc?

Medical illustration of a bulging disc - Graybar Chiropractic

If your back is in near constant pain, you probably don’t care too much about the specific name of the condition you’re suffering from. You just want it gone! However, chiropractors understand how the slight variations between something like a bulging disc and a herniate disc plays an important role in delivering the relief you’re looking for. Though bulging discs and herniated discs are similar, there are important differences that set them apart.

If you’re doubled over in pain, it’s a smart idea to seek help from Graybar Chiropractic in Wilmington, NC. We’ll work to qualify the nature of your bulging or herniated disc, providing you with targeted relief wherever possible. However, it all starts by knowing what specifically you’re dealing with.

Understanding disc pain

Vertebral discs play an important role in providing the spine with flexibility and support, along with protecting the spine. Each disc sits between the vertebrae and has a tough outer shell with a gel-like core. When the discs aren’t functioning properly, nerves are compressed and irritated, resulting in the following symptoms:

  • Numbness;
  • Tingling;
  • Muscle spasms;
  • Weakness;
  • Shooting pain.

Note that you may not experience this pain in the back. Instead, it might be in the extremities—arms, legs, fingers, and toes—or elsewhere. This is referred pain.

Bulging vs. herniated discs

With a bulging disc, the gel-like core of the disc doesn’t burst out. Instead, the disc puffs out, but there’s no tear or break in the disc. A herniated disc does involve a tearing in the disc’s outer shell, which results in the liquid core leaking into the spinal cord. These conditions may sometimes be referred to as slipped disc or ruptured disc as well.

No matter what condition you have, the result is going to be a slew of extremely painful symptoms. Inflammation from the nerves can cause flaring nerve pain, while a compromised area of the spine means reduced mobility and range of motion. Pain is ever-present until the condition is resolved.

Dealing with each type of disc issue

Disc issues require thoughtful oversight to address and it’s best to seek conservative treatment first before considering more drastic options like surgery. Chiropractic provides a natural way to relieve symptoms of either a bulging or herniated disc.

For herniated discs, traction and alleviation of pressure is an immediate first step. This will help reduce inflammation and restore blood flow to the area, promoting healing and relief. Over time your chiropractor will also work to help you maintain spinal integrity in the area affected by the herniation. Herniated discs require both immediate and ongoing attention.

Bulging discs are less dire than herniated ones, but nonetheless need to be corrected. A combination of targeted adjustments often provides some immediate relief. Many chiropractors will also refer localized treatment via ice, heat, or massage to help the adjustments take hold, preventing the bulging issue from materializing again.

Give your back a reset

By resetting your spine through adjustments, your chiropractor may be able to promote healing and proper spine function in the event of a bulging or herniated disc. Complementary treatments such as adopting a low-impact exercise program may also limit the chance of re-injury.

If you think you may be suffering from a herniated or bulging disc, the time to see a chiropractor is now. The experts at Graybar Chiropractic in Wilmington, NC will qualify the condition you’re dealing with and adopt a Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) program tailored around relief. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.

2018-03-15T15:16:34+00:00