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Difference between a Bulging disc and a Herniated disc

Effects of the Bulging disc and Herniated disc

back pain

The clinical effects of the bulging disk also progress with the progression of age. There may be no effect at the initial, but the severity of the symptoms increases with time. The impact of a bulging disc varies according to the position of the bulged disc. The usual effects are pain and numbness over the thighs, buttocks, and lower leg, leading to incoordination and reduced mobility of these parts. There is progressive pain in the back over the region of the bulged disc. The bowel and bladder movement can also be affected in bulging discs. The bulging disc usually does not occur in the upper part of the back.

 The effects of the herniated disc are almost the same as that of the bulging disc. However, the symptoms occur as acute episodes and have more severity at the beginning. The herniated disc also has a greater frequency in the upper part of the back than the bulging disc.

Difference of the causes

A bulging disk is considered a degenerative change. It usually occurs due to aging. The outer cartilage of the spinal disks goes through wear and tear with the passage of age. This wear and tear can ultimately lead to bulging out of the disk without a break or rupture in the tough outer cartilage. In contrast to the bulging disc, which occurs over time, the herniated disc occurs due to sudden acute injury. In some cases, there is an apparent cause of damage, such as lifting heavy workout machines or inappropriately twisting your body. Sometimes, the patient may present with herniated disk without a clear cause of injury.

Treatment of Bulging disc and Herniated disc

The treatment options depend on the severity of the disease. There is no significant difference in the treatment of bulging and herniated discs. The initial pain is relieved by using anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs and other such drugs. However, physical therapy is also beneficial, along with the use of painkillers to get long-term improvements. If the symptoms are no relieved by the anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy, surgery may be needed. Lumbar decompression is the surgical treatment for a bulging disc, and microdiscectomy is a surgical choice for a herniated disc.

  References

1: Kieffer, S. A., Sherry, R. G., Wellenstein, D. E., & King, R. B. (1982). Bulging lumbar intervertebral disk: myelographic differentiation from herniated disk with nerve root compression. AJR. American journal of roentgenology138(4), 709–716. https://doi.org/10.2214/ajr.138.4.709

2: Dydyk, A. M., Ngnitewe Massa , R., & Mesfin, F. B. (2020). Disc Herniation. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.

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