Disc bulges and Herniations

Disc bulge vs. Herniation

A disc is an articular joint that makes a disc bulge or herniation an injury to articular joint tissue. More specifically, they are made of cartilaginous tissue. These injuries are similar to sprains. Your discs are poorly vascularized, and as your spine matures it becomes even less vascularized which means they have limited blood flow which makes them heal slowly. The textbook duration of recovery from a joint injury of this nature is around 6-9 months, with some injuries taking longer. [1]

A disc is made of a strong lining termed annulus fibrosus and a spongy middle termed nucleus pulposus. A disc bulge is an injury where the strong lining extends outwards. A disc herniation occurs when the nucleus pulposus becomes weakened and breaks through the annulus fibrosus. 

Are they common?

The landscape is littered with people who have had these types of injuries in their spine and thought they were okay because they had little to no pain. No pain is often associated with these injuries because your body and spine are great at guarding an injured disc and preventing it to move. This will require the rest of the spine to make up for the loss of movement in one joint with movement in all the other discs. 

Your body will repair this disc based on how it was treated during the whole recovery period. If there is a lack of movement in this disc during the recovery, the repair process will be compromised and will result in scar tissue that will lead to degeneration, arthritis, and loss of regular movement. 

Just how common are disc bulges? You may be surprised at the list of ways you can get one of these injuries:

  • Improper lifting
  • Chronic constipation
  • Heavy straining 
  • Chronic cough
  • Allergies
  • Sneezing
  • Chronic obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Poor posture 
  • Slip and fall
  • Car accidents
  • Sleeping wrong
  • Prolonged sitting 
  • Tying your shoe

What about stenosing?

Injuries to the discs can harm your nerves. Both can result in canal stenosis and foraminal stenosis. Canal stenosis speaks to a narrowing of the pathway in which your spinal cord lives and foraminal stenosis speaks to a narrowing of the pathway in which your spinal nerves exit the spine. When you can manage the nerves safely, the best outcomes arise from dealing with the orthopedics of the spine.



[1]Dydyk, A. M. (2023, January 16). Disc herniation. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441822/#:~:text=On%20average%2C%20most%20cases%20of,within%20six%20weeks%20of%20symptoms.