A bulging spinal disc occurs when a spinal disc’s soft, and jelly-like center is pushed and squeezed into cracks in its outer covering.
This, in turn, causes weakening and stretching in that covering.
Typically, spinal discs absorb shock and provide flexibility within the spine. With age, discs break down becoming drier, less flexible, and more easily damaged.
Injury and prolonged overuse or misuse can speed the formation of tiny tears and cracks in a disc’s outer capsule.
A disc bulge is often commonly referred to as a slipped disc, and this condition will cause a spinal disc to press against and pinch the nerves of the spine.
A bulging disk doesn’t always affect the entire perimeter of a disk, but at least a quarter if not half of the disk’s circumference is usually affected. As the disc bulges out from between the adjacent bones (vertebrae), it can press on nerves causing numbness, weakness, or pain.
In contrast, a herniated disk, on the other hand, results when a crack in the tough outer layer of cartilage allows some of the softer inner cartilage to protrude out of the disk.
Compared with a bulging disc, a herniated disc is more likely to cause pain because it generally protrudes farther and is more likely to irritate nerve roots.
The irritation can be from compression of the nerve or, much more commonly, the herniation causes a painful inflammation of the nerve root.
The typical symptoms of bulging discs include: back pain is aggravated by:
- forward bending
- coughing or sneezing
As far as diagnosis, the most accurate diagnostic tests to confirm the extent of your spinal disc injury are MRI and CT scans. In the MRI, a disc bulge can be identified.
X-rays do not show acute disc bulging. However, X-rays can show signs of chronic disc injury such as degenerative disc disease and disc narrowing.
We have noted in our practice that cigarette smokers are at increased risk of disc deterioration.
There are times where disc problems will have progressed beyond what can we can treat with Chiropractic techniques or even Atlas Orthogonal.
In some of these situations, we can also offer the non-surgical alternative of Spinal Disc Decompression.