Bulging Disc

More Information Regarding Bulging Discs

In this section we will discuss some of the confusion in the terminology regarding bulging discs, herniated discs, protruding discs, etc. Many times, even doctors use incorrect descriptive terms. We will use some diagrams to help demonstrate our lesson.

The following information is from the North American Spine Society, American Society of Spine Radiology, and American Society of Neuroradiology.

The term ‘bulging disc’ is and should be used as a descriptive term, not a diagnostic term.001

Here is a bird’s eye view looking down onto a disc. Notice in the diagram the outer ring, this represents a symmetrical bulging disc. The disc tissue is bulging out around the entire border of the vertebrae. This is a rare finding under MRI and CT scans.

Although ‘bulging disc’ is a popular term, it is usually not representative of what is really going on at the spinal level. It is used because it is easy to understand. Most people really have a herniated disc.

This again is a broad category, which further breaks down into two more diagnostic terms. This is explained using the following diagrams:

002These two diagrams are very accurate in the description (or diagnosis) of disc herniations. You will commonly find these descriptive terms on your MRI or CT reports from your doctor.

By strict definition, a broad-based herniation involves between 25 and 50% of the disc circumference. A focal herniation involves less than 25% of the disc circumference.

Herniated discs may take the form of protrusion or extrusion based on the shape of the displaced or herniated material. The following diagram illustrates this well:003

The above information is designed to clarify the use of these terms. The simple fact is that if you have a herniated disc, the disc material can press on the nerve roots or central nerves running through the central canal where the spinal cord lives. This can produce serious back and leg pain, as well as, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.

Occasionally, the disruption and injury in the annulus fibrosis can be the source of back pain. The outer 1/3 of the annulus fibrosis has a nerve supply, and if the center nuclear materials are migrating through the weakened annulus, this can cause pain.

This condition is sometimes referred to as internal disc disruption. This is very difficult to see on MRI or CT scans and is considered to be the early stages of a herniated disc, although it is still not visible on advanced imaging. This condition responds well to non-surgical spinal decompression, allowing blood, water, and nutrients to enter the disc and begin healing the damaged annulus fibrosis. Please see the diagram below.

This is a side view diagram. The left side is the front of the body and the right side is the back of the body.


Our NSD Method facilitates water and nutrient exchange into the disc, thus, allowing the injury to heal. It also can cause a vacuum-like effect, allowing the displaced materials to return to a more centralized position.

Over time, our treatment can also allow collagen, one of the body’s healing proteins, to form. Collagen can then repair the cracks and fissures in the annulus fibrosis. In addition, the inner matrix material of the disc becomes healthier with the exchange of water and nutrients.

Here is one of many success stories from a patient who suffered from bulging discs: “Due to a bulging disc in my low back, before treatment I was unable to feel my left leg, had lots of cramping/aching in my gluteal muscles and lots of stiffness in my low back. Exercising, sitting for log periods of time, and lifting caused lots of stress to my body. After 20 treatments I now have virtually none of these symptoms. I am a happier, healthier person. Chiropractic treatments and massage only offered me temporary relief. The treatment at the Minnesota Disc Institute is the only treatment that has helped me see results long term!” JM

Our program has a very high success rate in eliminating or substantially reducing the pain and other symptoms caused by a bulging disc. Please call our office at 952-500-8090 to schedule a consultation for the doctor to determine if you are a candidate for our care, or you may fill out our contact form under the “Contact” section.