Herniated Disc vs Bulging Disc: What’s the Difference?

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Herniated Disc

Did you know that around 12,000 new spinal cord issues in the United States are diagnosed yearly?

We were surprised by how many of our friends and family didn’t know what was happening to them.


After asking around people that we knew were dealing with a bulging disc or herniated disc, we ended up making this article. With it, we want to give you a place to go to understand what might happen to you.

We think that it’s best to understand what might be wrong with you than to wonder.


So, we’ve done our best to outline everything you need to know about the differences between a herniated disc vs bulging disc.

Anatomical Differences

A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner material of the disc pushes out of a weak area of the outer wall of the vertebral disc. At the same time, a bulging disc occurs when the outer wall of the vertebral disc bulges outward, but the inner material does not break through the wall.

A herniated disc is typically more severe, as the inner material pushed out of the disc can interfere with the nerves and other structures surrounding it.


This can lead to severe pain, numbness, and tingling in the affected area.

On the other hand, a bulging disc is usually milder as the inner material does not protrude.


It causes less irritation to the surrounding structures.

Both a herniated disc and a bulging disc can result in pain. The severity depends on how much the disc is affected and how deep the protrusion is.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment often includes physical therapy, steroid medications, and surgery in severe cases visiting an orthopedic surgeon in San Diego.Prevention includes maintaining good posture, taking breaks while working, and seeking regular chiropractic care.

Bulging discs occur when the ‘doorknob’ part of the disc rains outward, but the disc does not rupture. Treatment for a bulging disc usually includes wearing a back brace, physical therapy, steroid medications, and in some cases, surgery.

Prevention is similar to that for a herniated disc, but since the discs are less prone to rupturing, there may be a risk of recurrence. For both herniated and bulging discs, it’s essential to seek medical advice as soon as symptoms occur. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further complications.

Recovery from herniated discs is generally more difficult and typically requires more aggressive treatments, such as surgery. Conversely, recovery from a bulging disc needs less invasive treatments, such as physical therapy, and may occur relatively quickly. A physical therapist can provide advice and guidance as to which treatments will work best, depending on the cause and severity of the disc injury.

Knowing the Differences Between Herniated Disc vs Bulging Disc

When determining between herniated disc vs bulging disc, know that they are both painful and debilitating, but they are not the same condition. When experiencing disc issues, it’s essential to get professional help to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Learn more about disc health today!

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