Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Differences between a Herniated Disc and a Bulging Disc

If you’re familiar with back pain or even had any kind of back injury, you’ve likely heard the words “herniated disc” and “bulging disc” before. You may have also heard the term “slipped disc” before, which it seems is often used to describe either problem in everyday speech. It’s that part that makes me think that people see these two conditions as being equivalent, but it’s important that they are kept separate. So why not discuss the differences between the two conditions?

First, let’s start with the condition that is the most painful and problematic - disc herniation. Herniation specifically refers to a spinal disc that has experienced a tear or crack in the outer layer of the cartilaginous fibers that encase the center of the disc (called an annular tear). The material from the nucleus of the disc leaks out into the spinal canal and presses on spinal nerves causing irritation, inflammation and pain.

A bulging disc, on the other hand, is a much more common issue where the disc protrudes out some in a large portion of the disc. A good analogy would be that it sort of resembles a hamburger that is too big for its bun. A bulging disc is a much more common problem than a herniated disc but is, in most cases, not the direct cause of pain.

As to the differences, there are a few. A bulging disc is mainly caused by aging and is completely normal, whereas a herniated disc is an indication of an injury or the direct result of trauma. Herniated discs are also much more commonly painful. In fact, bulging discs seldom result in pain.

If you are experiencing severe back pain, Living Well Medical in NYC is here to help. Give our office a call today at 212-645-8151 today and find out if your pain is related to a disc problem

- Dr. Shoshany, NYC Chiropractor

Here are some of the chiropractors from around the country that Living Well Medical endorses:

Dr. Eben Davis, San Francisco Chiropractor
Dr. Nona Djavid, Newport Beach Chiropractor
Dr. Ron Spallone, Denver Chiropractor
Dr. Bruce Bell, Chula Vista Chiropractor
Dr. Cathy Hunter, Simi Valley Chiropractor
Dr. Andrea Mills, Lancaster, CA Chiropractor
Dr. Matthew Rivera, San Carlos, CA Chiropractor
Dr. David Livingston, Delray Beach, FL Chiropractor
Dr. Adam Jacobs, Best San Francisco Chiropractor
Dr. Scott Waddell, Laguna Niguel Chiropractor


  1. Very interesting blog post Dr. Shoshany. We treat herniated discs and bulging discs in San Francisco. Keep up the great work.

  2. Dr. Shoshany has a very clear understanding of the major disc issues that many people face. Furthermore, he utilizes a proven treatment protocol to either reduce or ameliorate the symptoms associated with these disc issues. I know this first hand as I use a similar protocol and my patients have thus avoided disability, surgery and a life time of prescription drug use. My folks live in NYC and I will, if necessary, refer them to see Dr. Shoshany.

  3. Great job 'dummying down' a complicated subject.