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  Bulging Disc  
 
 
This section discusses some of the confusion in the terminology regarding bulging discs, herniated discs, and protruding discs. Many times, even medical doctors use incorrect descriptive terms. In order for the average patient to understand this in any depth, the web is a good source of image—a picture is worth a thousand words here.
 
The following information is from the North American Spine Society, American Society of Spine Radiology, and American Society of Neuroradiology.
 
The term ‘bulging disc’ is and should be used as a descriptive term, not a diagnosis. The disc tissue bulges out around the entire border of the vertebrae. This is a rare finding under MRI and CT scans.

Spine Pathology Schematic Chronic Low Back Pain Disc Pittsburgh Cranberry

 
     
  Although “bulging disc” is a popular term, it is usually not accurately representative of what is really going on at the disc level. It is usually used simply because it is easy to understand. Most people really have a herniated disc.  This is also a broad category, which further breaks down into several more diagnostic terms. By strict definition, a broad-based herniation involves between 25% and 50% of the disc circumference. A focal herniation involves less than 25% of the disc circumference.  
     
 
The above information is designed to clarify the medical usage of these terms. The simple fact is that if you have a herniated disc, the disc material can press on the nerve roots or central nerves running through the central canal where the spinal cord lives. This can produce serious back and leg pain, as well as, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.
 
Occasionally, the disruption and injury in the annulus fibrosis can be the source of back pain. The outer 1/3 of the annulus fibrosis has a nerve supply, and if the center nuclear materials are pushing through the weakened annulus, this often causes pain.

Yellow Bulging Disc Chronic Low Back Pain Pittsburgh Cranberry Herniated

 
     
  This condition is sometimes (and accurately) referred to as internal disc disruption. This is very difficult to see on MRI or CT scans and is considered to be the early stages of a herniated disc, although it is still not visible on any advanced imaging. This condition responds well to non-surgical spinal decompression, allowing blood, water, and nutrients to enter the disc and begin healing the damaged annulus fibrosis. This process of disc re-hydration is key to any real healing.  
     
  Non-surgical spinal decompression can be very effective in treating these difficult, often chronic conditions. The treatment results in an unloading of the pain-causing disc structures, which in turn creates a negative intradiscal pressure in the interior of the disc. This facilitates water and nutrient exchange, allowing the injury to heal. It also can cause a vacuum-like effect, allowing the displaced materials to return to a more central position.  
     
  Over time, this treatment allows collagen, one of the body’s healing-response proteins, to form. Collagen can then repair the cracks and fissures in the outer annulus fibrosis. In addition, the inner matrix material of the disc becomes healthier with this exchange of water and nutrients. Spinal stabilization rehab exercises should follow any common sense spinal decompression program.  Call us at (724) 709-0667 to find out if non-surgical Spinal Decompression is the right solution for your chronic lower back pain.  
     
 
     
     

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