Herniated Disc vs Bulging Disc Difference

In the case of a bulging disc the outer edges are bowing out or bulging only, with no tears and the inner nucleus pulposus still inside the disc.

In the case of a ruptured herniated disc that outer covering of the disc becomes torn and allows the inner nucleus pulposus racquet like ball to push or herniate out. Sometimes the nucleus pulposus can enter the spinal canal and travel up or down the spine. This is also known as a sequestered herniation.

So you can see a herniated disc is more severe than bulging disc.

If you thought having a bulging disc was bad enough, well unfortunately that disc in your back can become a ruptured herniated disc. Over time your bulging disc can deteriorate and degenerate to the point where the inside of the disc herniates out. People sometimes call this a slipped disc pain.

This type of back pain or neck pain can be severe and disabling. I have seen many grown men cry when they try get up from a chair and hear of people not being to get out of bed with a herniated disc pain. Today I want to look at the differences between a bulging and herniated disc, the causes, symptoms and treatment options for a ruptured herniated disc in your back.

Herniated Disc Pain

Ruptured Herniated Disc



Herniated Disc Symptoms

A herniated disc in the neck or low back, can cause a severe nerve pain called a radiculopathy.

When the nerve leaves the spine and gets badly pinched in your neck your doctor might diagnose you with a C5-6 or C6-7 radiculopathy down your left arm or right arm. In your lower back a pinched nerve problem you might find your doctor tell you you have a L4-5 or L5-S1 radiculopathy down your left leg or right leg. This is also sometimes called sciatica down your leg.

You can see the difference in disc injuries on an MRI scan. These MRI scans are used by radiologists for spinal disc injury classification.

Causes of a Herniated Disc

You are probably wondering why the disc in your neck or the disc in your back decided to herniate.

Well most the time it is a degenerative process over time. This means slowly over several months or years that disc has been losing water, losing height and weakening. This process keeps happening till one day something simple like, bending over to pick up a pencil, can cause a ruptured herniated disc.

There are other times trauma like car accidents or sport accidents can cause an instant disc herniation.

For example you can see how WWE superstar, Jon Cena, caused himself a traumatic herniated in his neck whilst competing at the Summerslam against Batista.

Herniated Disc Treatment Options

A herniated disc in your neck or lower back is treated the same as bulging disc treatment options.

  • You should do various conservative care treatment options for a minimum of 6 weeks
  • If after 6-12 weeks time the pain isn’t under control or there is loss of motor control function with increasing weakness in the arm or leg, then further intervention treatment like epidurals or surgery might be considered by your doctor.