Spinal disc herniation and bulging discs have nearly identical symptoms and can present almost in the same way. Both cause localized pain, nerve impingement, and are treated similarly with chiropractic. In most cases spinal disc herniation is not painful, it is the material that leaks out of the disc that causes pinching, inflammation, and irritates the nerves around the area, causing radicular pain.
Radicular pain/nerve root pain radiates/spreads to other areas of the body, like the low back to down the leg or from the neck down the arm. Leg pain from a pinched nerve usually leads to sciatica. A spinal disc itself can be the source of pain if it is dehydrating or degenerating causing pain and instability in the spinal segment, which is known as degenerative disc disease. Disc degeneration pain tends to include chronic, low-level pain around the disc and infrequent episodes of severe pain.
Spinal disc herniation and bulging discs have similar roots that make them difficult to diagnose. Some core comparisons that can be made include:
How they differ:
It is the severity that separates them. Bulging discs tend to be more passive and can be treated with incremental adjustments, while herniated discs usually require a more aggressive adjustment approach.
How the injury affects the spine and overall wellness is the objective when diagnosing. Bulging discs are often associated with chronic pain that does not go away with time and needs proper treatment. Herniated discs are considered severe because of the disc fluid spilling/leaking out affecting the surrounding nerves. Left untreated, bulging discs lead to intermittent nerve blockages/pinching and posture problems. Herniated disc left untreated leads to chronic nerve pain and permanent nerve damage, which can develop into a series of issues. This includes limited mobility and/or loss of feeling in the affected area.
Chiropractic diagnosis for bulges and spinal disc herniation is recommended because of the specialization in spine care and focusing on all symptoms. For example, although it is not typically this simple, analysis revealing tingling in the fingers and sharp pain in the lower spine indicates herniation. Conversely, dull aches in the low back and down the legs, indicate sciatic pain that can be traced to a disc bulge. Making the correct diagnosis is crucial in developing the right treatment plan. The wrong treatment plan could result in worsening of the injury and creation of new injuries. Injury Medical Chiropractic provides optimal care along with education for patients to understand everything that is going on with their bodies.
Pain can be grouped into three categories:
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Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
Santilli, Valter et al. “Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations.” The spine journal: official journal of the North American Spine Society vol. 6,2 (2006): 131-7. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2005.08.001
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Injury, Trauma & Spinal Rehabilitation Specialist