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A 33-year-old member asked:

What is the difference between having a bulging disk and a herniated disk?

4 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. Thomas Dowling
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 40 years experience
Size: Bulging discs are normal findings on imaging studies while disc herniations are discs that have moved out of there normal position. Disc bulges do not cause symptoms. A disc herniation is an actual passage of the disc's inner core or nucleus passing thru the outer part or annulus of the disc where a disc bulge does not result in any part if the disc out of its normal alignment of material.
Dr. Kenneth Reichert
Neurosurgery 35 years experience
Disc bulge herniatio: A bulging disc occurs with degeneration or minor disruption of the disc complex. A bulge usually doesn't contact or compress the spinal cord or nerve root and can be an a symptomatic finding. A herniated disc is a bigger disc disruption usually associated with mass effect on the spinal cord or nerve root. Weakness, sensory loss, or pain down the extremity is usually found.
Dr. Steven Saunders
Internal Medicine 43 years experience
Herniated disk: Very much the same but herniated generally connotes greater disc extrusion with greater potential for affecting spinal nerves.
Dr. Qamar Khan
Pain Management 17 years experience
Synonyms: The terms bulging disk, slipped disk, herniated disk are roughly the same idea that they disc has moved out of place where it should be and possibly compressing nerve or spinal cord. Typically though herniated disk signifies a slight increase in severity of pathology over a bulging disc. It gets a little more specific if terms like disc protrusion and disc extrusion come into the mix.

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A 39-year-old member asked:

Can a herniated bulging disk heal on its own?

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Chintan Sampat
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 18 years experience
Yes!: Most lumbar disc herniations tend to heal on their own. Anti-inflammatory medication and traction type of therapy often helps to relieve the pain. The herniated disc often takes up to 3 months to heal. Seek medical attention if there is progressive pain, inability to walk, numbness, weakness, or any changes with bowel/bladder function.
A 29-year-old member asked:

Is there a?Difference between a herniated disc and a bulging disc?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Jason Huffman
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 23 years experience
Usually: There are not absolute definitions for either a herniated or bulging disc. What i may call a bulging disc another doctor might call herniated. In general though a herniated disc is actually protruding or hanging out of the normal disc space. A bulging disc is protruding less. Think of a drop of water, the bulging disc is the drop about to fall and the herniated disc is the drop that is falling.
A 44-year-old member asked:

What is the?Difference between?Bulging disc?And a herniated disc?

2 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Richard Guyer
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 46 years experience
Symptoms and size: A bulging disc is similar to your tire that has lost some air and the sidewall bulges. It may cause no symptoms but if it bulges more and is large even to pinch a nerve we use the term herniated disc. It is confusing for patients and for doctors who read the reports. The patients' history and clinical exam must be correlated with the x-rays.

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Last updated Dec 18, 2019
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