Disc Bulge

What is a Disc Bulge?

Disc Bulge or a bulging disc occurs when a disc protrudes. The protrusion puts pressure on the nerve. This can lead to pain. The pain can travel and radiate to other areas of the body.  This can depend on which part of the spine the bulging disc occurs.

Disc Bulge
Disc Bulge

Bulging Disc vs. Herniated Disc

Bulging disc and herniated disc can be used interchangeably. However there are several differences between these two conditions. A disc bulge is not broken. This means the outer wall of the disc remains intact. With a herniated disc, there is a partial rupture, or tear, in the disc. Both can put pressure on the nerve causing pain. The primary difference is whether the disc is contained or non-contained.

Cervical Disc Bulge

A cervical bulging disc occurs in the neck. These vertebrae are known as C1-C7. Cervical disc bulges can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. This pain can radiate throughout the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.

Thoracic Disc Bulge

The thoracic portion of the spine begins at the collarbone and ends at the bottom of the rib cage. These vertebrae are known as T1-T12. Bulging discs are usually rare in this area. Symptoms are pain in the upper back. This pain can radiate to the stomach and chest. Thoracic disc bulge is often misdiagnosed with heart problems. This is why it is imperative to consult with a specialist to obtain the correct diagnoses.

Lumbar Disc Bulge

The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae. They span from the waist to the top of the hips. These vertebrae are known as L1-L5. Bulging discs are often common in this area. Symptoms can lead to leg pain, numbness in the feet or toes. Symptoms can vary widely depending on which lumbar vertebrae are bothered.

Causes Disc Bulge

A disc bulge is more common than people think. The outer layer of the disc weakens with age. Although age is a common cause, there are other activities that can develop a bulging disc. Common causes include trauma, genetics, poor posture, and repetitive movements. Other factors can also speed up the process. These include smoking, obesity, and consuming too much alcohol.


The first course of treatment for a disc bulge include non-surgical options. These can often be a combination of medication and exercise. Physical therapy, chiropractic and steroid injections are common treatment options. If conservative therapies have not worked then surgery would be the next option. Surgery is an option when the nerve is compressing the spinal cord or pinching a nerve.

Prevention Disc Bulge

Disc bulging are a primary result of natural degeneration of the spine. There are ways to prevent this. A good way to prevent this is to maintain good posture. Avoid improper lifting techniques. It is also important to practice regular stretching exercises. Maintaining a daily exercise routine is also important. It is also crucial to stop smoking, if you are a smoker and limit alcohol consumption. Self-care is very important to maintain a healthy spine and prevent further complications.

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