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Herniated Disc Vs Bulging Disc

Herniated Disc Vs Bulging Disc

You may have heard the terms herniated disc or bulging disc, but do you know how they differ?

In this blog we take a look at each condition, their symptoms and ways they can be treated.

If you suspect you’ve damaged a disc in your spine, book an appointment with one of the trusted Brisbane physios at North West Physiotherapy here.

Intervertebral Disc: What is it?

To help identify whether you have bulging or herniated disc, it’s important to understand what an intervertebral disc is, where it’s located and the important role it plays.

Here’s what you need to know…

An intervertebral disc is a cushion of fibrocartilage that lies between each vertebra in the spine.

It assists with spinal stability and shock absorption.

What is a bulging disc? 

Bulging occurs when an intervertebral disc extends beyond its usual margin.

Symptoms may include:

  • Low back pain and leg pain,
  • Pins and needles and/or numbness.

However, a lot of people will have no symptoms at all.

What is a herniated disc?

Herniation occurs when an intervertebral disc extends beyond its usual margin, with the gel-like contents of the disc protruding through the outer layer.

This is more likely to irritate surrounding structures such as nerve roots and blood vessels.

 Symptoms for a herniated disc are similar to those of a bulging disc and may include:

  • Low back pain and leg pain,
  • Pins and needles and/or numbness.

The referral of symptoms into the legs is known as radicular pain or sciatica

Herniated Disc Vs Bulging Disc

So, with both bulging and herniated discs the intervertebral disc extends beyond its usual limits, however a herniation can occur when the disc protrudes further.

Both bulging and herniated discs may irritate nearby nerve roots and blood vessels.

However, symptoms are more common in those with a herniation as the gel-like contents protrude through the outer layer of the disc.

Bulging Disc and Herniated Disc Treatment

Physiotherapy often plays an important role in the healing of both bulging and herniated discs.

Treatment may include:

  • Massage,
  • Passive mobilisation,
  • Electrotherapy,
  • Cold/heat therapy and
  • Exercises for
    • Strength,
    • Flexibility,
    • Coordination,
    • Core stability and

Medical management may include the prescription of anti-inflammatory medication.

Surgical treatment is the last resort if symptoms are not relieved by physiotherapy and medical management.


Herniated Disc Vs Bulging Disc

If you suspect you have a bulging disc or herniated disc, or not quite sure (which is perfectly okay, too!) contact the experienced team at North West Physiotherapy.

North West Physiotherapy is your one-stop pain relief and healthy living practice in Brisbane. With four clinics across North Brisbane; Everton ParkKeperra, Eatons Hill and Nundah our aim is to provide holistic healthcare solution to suit your specific lifestyle. 

Our services include Physiotherapy, Sports PhysioHydrotherapyPilates, PodiatryDry NeedlingMassageWomens Health, and Seniors Strength and Balance Classes. Please note that services vary across our clinics. 

Appointments available 6am – 7:30pm Monday to Friday, and 8am – 12:30pm on Saturdays. Book online here or call us on 07 3353 4111.