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Three bulging disc and disc extrusion differences

Although you may often hear the terms “bulging disc” and “disc extrusion” used interchangeably, it is important to note that these are two different conditions. However, before you understand these distinctions, it is vital to get an overview of the commonalities between these conditions through the following article.

Similarities between a bulging disc and a disc extrusion

A bulging disc and disc extrusion often share the same symptoms, although the condition may not always be symptomatic. These symptoms include local or radiating pain, loss of flexibility, sciatica, numbness, weakness, stiffness and tingling. Furthermore, both of these conditions can develop as a result of traumatic injury, excess weight and degeneration.

Bulging disc vs. disc extrusion

The following are differences between a bulging disc and a disc extrusion:

  1. Protrusion versus herniation. A bulging disc is often referred to as a protruded disc, while a disc extrusion is often referred to as a herniated disc.
  2. Contained versus not-contained. A bulging disc is contained within the annulus fibrosus (disc wall), meaning it has not torn or ruptured. A disc extrusion, on the other hand, is not-contained, meaning it has extended outside the tough outer layer of the disc after the gel-like center of the disc has torn or ruptured and leaked into the spinal canal.
  3. Asymptomatic versus symptomatic. A disc extrusion is more likely to result in symptoms, rather than a bulging disc. This is due to the fact that there is more disc material that is pushed out, which can increase the chance of nerve root or spinal cord compression.

By looking at your medical history, conducting a physical exam and ordering imaging tests, a doctor can evaluate your condition to determine whether you are suffering from a bulging disc or disc extrusion and come up with a treatment regimen that is right for your spine care needs.

Treating a bulging disc and a disc extrusion

In order to treat these conditions, conservative treatments such as physical therapy, pain medication and chiropractic care may be effective in providing you with relief. However, if several weeks or months of these treatments have not provided you with the relief that you have been searching for, then surgical intervention may become necessary.

If this is the case for you, contact the dedicated team at USA Spine Care to learn how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help you on the road to recovery. We offer safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery,^ that has helped thousands of patients find lasting relief from chronic neck or back conditions like disc extrusion or bulging discs.

At USA Spine Care, our procedures offer no lengthy recovery as well as a low risk of complication and infection.^ Our board-certified surgeons+ are able to remove the portion of the disc that is bulging or extruding, allowing a patient to find relief from their condition. To learn if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery, reach out to us today and ask for a free MRI review.*

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