When it comes to disc-related problems in the spine, two of the most common terms you will hear are “bulging disc” and “herniated disc”. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, there are important differences between the two.
A bulging disc occurs when the jelly-like center of a spinal disc begins to push against the outer wall of the disc. This is usually caused by age-related wear and tear, or normal wear and tear due to repeated activities that put strain on the spine. A bulging disc is not considered a serious condition and is usually not very painful. However, it can still cause discomfort, especially if it is pressing against a nerve root.
A herniated disc, on the other hand, is a more serious condition. It occurs when a spinal disc ruptures, and the jelly-like center pushes through the outer wall of the disc. This can cause pain and discomfort, as well as numbness and tingling in the affected area. It can also cause muscle weakness in the affected area. Herniated discs often require medical treatment, such as physical therapy, medications, or surgery.
In summary, a bulging disc is a milder form of disc-related problem, while a herniated disc is a more serious condition. Both can cause discomfort and may require medical treatment, but a herniated disc is usually more severe and requires more intensive treatment. If you think you may have either a bulging disc or a herniated disc, it is important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.