Herniated and Bulging Disc Disease

What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc occurs when the softer components is pushed (or herniates) through the more elastic outer matrix of the disc.  The Herniated content can go un-noticed or can cause pain as a result of nerve root compression, disc height degeneration, or spinal cord compression.

What is a bulging disc?

A bulging disc is when a portion of the disc bulges outside of its confines between the two vertebra that it supports, unlike herniated disc the inner content of does not squirt outside of the disc premises.  However, the bulging can result in nerve root or spinal cord compression.

Herniated discs (also known as slipped disk or ruptured disk) and bulging disc can occur along any portion of the spinal column, cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine.

Risk factors for Herniated or Bulging disc disease include: obesity, poor posture at work while lifting or twisting, injury to spinal column and age.

Potential symptoms that you may experience with this condition:

  • Numbness and Tingling in along the spinal column and into the upper and/or lower extremities
  • Muscle weakness involving the axial spine, neck, upper or lower extremities
  • Pain in axial spine that radiates into in upper and/or lower extremities
  • Burning sensation in arms or legs

**Note: if you experience progressive weakness, loss of urine or bowel control or difficulty with balance as  result of your worsening or sudden back pain.  You need to notify your doctor immediately.

Treatment options for these conditions:

  1. Physical therapy:
    1. Muscle stretching and strengthening
    2. Core strengthening
    3. Local ultrasound therapy
    4. Chiropractor therapy
  2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  3. Medications:
    1. Anti-inflammatory therapy
    2. Nerve pain medications
    3. Muscle relaxants
    4. Hot and cold compressors
  4. Interventions:
    1. Epidural steroid injections: Interlaminar and Transforaminal
    2. Spinal cord stimulator
    3. Trigger point injections
  5. Surgery: for severe cases that are refractory to options 1-4 above. At times surgery may be used as first line for treatment as it can hold the best outcomes.
  6. Developing therapies: Stem cell therapy