"What is a Bulging Disk?"

A bulging disk is a "weakening" to the annulus fibrosus of an intervertebral disk that often causes symptoms of neck and back pain. Annular fibers hold the "jelly" like material of the intervertebral disk in place.

This bulging "disk" of jelly like material is quite hydrophilic, containing much water. It serves as a sort of shock absorber for your spine. As we get older the amount of water that resides in the disk becomes much less.

In the human spine you have 24 vertabrae with an intervertebral "disc" between each. A bulging disk may have an impact on pain-sensitive structures like ligaments and nerve roots.

A bulging disk is a general term used by most lay people to describe a displacement of the nucleus pulposus.

Bulging Disk Picture

When the annular fibers that hold a disk into place have weakened, the material inside may begin to "bulge" outward and cause some compression on a spinal nerve root (see bulging disk image). This in turn can cause symptoms of pain, numbness and/or weakness.

A BULGING DISK in your lower back or neck is quite similar to a herniated disc and often the terms are incorrectly interchangeable by the lay person.

Many times, a bulging disk will manifest into a herniated disc. Especially as symptoms are ignored and the offending activity continues to occur unchecked (see postural dysfunction below).

Usually, bulging disk symptoms are unilateral and present only on one side. People presenting this way often term the condition "Sciatica". This is not completely accurate as irritation to the sciatic nerve may occur for several different reasons.

Causes for a bulging disk can be age related, traumatic (such as a MVA or slip and fall), or due in part to postural dysfunction in sitting.

It is not unusual to find many clients presenting with a bulging disk after a long series of heavy lifting or carrying activities. This is however quite preventable following a few simple guidelines.

Bulging disk treatment may include physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture or acupressure and epidural steroid injections. Epidural steroid injections are usually limited to a series of three.

Please visit my "bulging disk quick fix" located at the top of this website for an easy to follow three step program towards healing your bulging disk today.

When conservative care for a bulging disk fails, surgical intervention in the way of spinal decompression may be in order. But before contemplating surgery, please be sure to try these 5 tips for developing a pain free lower back due to a bulging disk.

Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist


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