Back and Spine Health
While the spinal column may be responsible for giving the body its overall structure and support, it is still prone to various injuries and traumas that are often treated by a spine surgeon in Henderson, NV. And even though some of the more valuable internal structures, such as the spine and spinal cord, have some degree of protection, the spine is still subject to developing somewhat-severe complications like herniated discs and bulging discs.
So, what’s the difference between a herniated disc and a bulging disc? Well, it depends. A herniated disc occurs when the inner core of a spinal disc spills out of its protective sheath, while a bulging disc occurs when a spinal disc pushes its inner core against the spinal canal. Both bulging and herniated discs can cause pain in varying degrees and must be treated immediately to avoid further damage and discomfort.
What’s a Bulging Disc?
Bulging discs are generally the result of direct trauma to the spine and are typically caused by issues like improper form while lifting heavy objects, poor posture, repetitive movement, or injury. A bulging disc (not to be confused with a muscle strain) is amongst the most common types of spinal disc injuries and can stay undiagnosed if not checked.
Bulging disc symptoms do not occur all at once since it takes time for the condition to get worse from the moment damage happens. Associated symptoms include:
– Chronic or acute pain in the legs
– Numbness in the buttocks and lower back
– Neck pain
– Difficulty walking
Individuals most at risk of developing a bulging disc include people with physically demanding jobs or active lifestyles since it is during such activities when damage to spinal discs easily occurs. A bulging disc can occur in one or several discs, depending on what caused or is causing the issue. If left untreated, the condition can grow worse over time and lead to complications such as spinal stenosis.
There are several options for treating a bulging disc with most of them being focused on relieving the pain caused when the nucleus presses on a cluster of nerves. Long-term solutions may include muscle relaxers and opioids. However, since the condition can be easily treated at home, careful movement and bed rest for a couple of weeks could help return a bulging disc to its original position.
What is a Herniated Disc?
The main cause of spinal disc herniation is age and that’s because the bones in our spinal column weaken as we grow older. Other causes include a blow to the spine, sudden movement, injuries, accidents, or active trauma. Herniated discs are generally more severe than bulging discs since there’s a chance the core could rupture. In most cases, the most common cause is spinal disc herniating is degeneration of the body due to age.
The symptoms of a herniated disc aren’t that different from those of a bulging disc. They include:
– Sensitivity, tingling, weakness, or numbness in the shoulders
– General discomfort around the affected area
– Sharp back pain when walking or moving
While the risk factors for developing this condition are quite many, age is the number one factor. The older an individual is, the more likely it is for them to suffer a herniated disc. Older people are especially at risk since a pinched nerve can lead to pain in various parts of the body like in the knees and ankles and may even lead to nerve damage if left untreated.
Herniated discs are treated the same way as bulging discs but with an emphasis on relieving short-term pain and the use of medication such as anti-inflammatories. Since herniated disc pain is more severe, surgery may be considered in some situations. However, it is worth noting that operating on the spine is risky, which explains why most physicians avoid this option unless it’s necessary.
While herniated and bulging discs have some similarities, they must be treated accordingly and by their level of severity. Since the nerve roots in the spinal column also include limbs like the legs and arms, any form/kind of spinal disc damage must be diagnosed and treated by a spine surgeon in Henderson, NV as soon as it happens. If left untreated, the conditions could lead to more severe issues like permanent sciatic nerve damage and chronic back pain.