We all think herniated disc and a bulging disc is the same. Yet, there is a difference between the two. A crack in the annulus or outer layer of the disc is seen as a herniated disc. The crack affecting the small part of the disc allows the rupture of the nucleus pulposus or the inner soft material.


What is a Bulging Disc?


Here’s how to know if you have a bulging disc. A bulging disc, on the other hand, is different from a herniated disc. In a bulging disc, the disc bulges out of the space it normally resides between the vertebrae. The disc bulges but it does not crack.

A larger part of the disc is affected by a bulging disc than a herniated disc. A herniated disc is more likely to give you pain but, the common condition is with the bulging disc. You may have a bulging disc without experiencing pain at the outset of the condition.




Bulging disc is a common medical condition affecting both the young and old. It is a condition that does not have to cause panic. The symptoms experienced in the affected nerve occur with the applied pressure exerted by a bulging disc. Some of the common symptoms manifested by a bulging disc include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness

A bulging disc can make you feel the pain coming from different parts of the body such as the kidneys, heart or abdomen. Again, the pain felt depends on the nerve affected by the bulging disc.

The symptoms manifested when a bulging disc presses against the spinal cord include:

A bulging disc in the thoracic spine:

  • Paralysis from the waist down
  • Muscle numbness, tingling or weakness in one or both legs
  • Spastic or increased reflexes in one or both legs
  • Changes in the function of bowel and bladder

A bulging disc in the cervical spine:

  • Pain radiating in your fingers, upper arm, and forearm
  • Pain around the neck area
  • Pain over or near the shoulder blade

A bulging disc will not cause immediate pain. Rather, the pain starts slowly which is experienced during certain activities or get worse over time. However, the pain and the accompanying symptoms of a bulging disc clear up after a few weeks or months.




Conservative Treatment

Surgery is not necessarily the treatment route for most cases of bulging discs. Treatment depends on the symptoms manifested by a patient. Conservative treatment usually involves pain medication prescriptions and physical therapy.

Doing all these is a watch-and-see period where the medical practitioner observes whether the symptoms go away after several weeks.

Surgery is only recommended when the physician does not see any improvement or a gradual deterioration of the condition is being shown by the patient.



A discectomy and laminotomy are the likely surgery procedure treatments for a bulging disc in the past. The operation entails removal of the bulging disc to relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves and cord.

However, the decompression brought about by the laminotomy and discectomy surgery procedures has been discontinued due to the numerous cases of nerve issues.

In light of this, other safer surgical procedures have since been adopted for bulging discs.