Bulging Discs: Statistics & Treatments

Bulging Discs are also called herniated discs, disc protrusions, disc extrusions, annular tears, prolapsed discs and ruptured discs. A disc herniates when a tear forms in the outer portion of the disc, allowing the softer disc center to move outward.  This can occur anywhere in the spine and is the most common cause of low back pain/sciatic pain.

Occasionally, bulging discs visible on an MRI produce no pain or symptoms.  Bulging may result from aging or wear and tear, and is also called degenerative disc disease.  Sudden forces applied to the spine in a motor vehicle accident can be great enough to start the process of herniation with a tear to annular fibers.

Poor lifting techniques, prolonged sitting, being overweight, smoking and sedentary lifestyle may contribute to the development of a bulging disc.

Symptoms and Treatment


The symptoms of herniated discs will vary greatly depending upon the size and position of the herniated disc. The most common symptoms of a herniated disc are:

  • Pain/numbness in the buttocks and/or leg with a herniated-lumbar disc
  • Pain/numbness in the shoulder, arm with a herniated-cervical disc
  • Pain/numbness in the shoulder blades and/or chest with a herniated-thoracic disc
  • Pain when sneezing, coughing and/or laughing


Some of the most common treatments for a herniated disc include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medication
  • Injections
  • Surgery (last option)

Typically, a combination of treatments works best to treat a herniated disc.