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Bulging Discs

Common among patients of all ages, bulging discs are a frequent source of spine discomfort, though they are not always painful. A bulging disc occurs when a disc begins to protrude, expanding slightly into the spinal column. The inside of the disc is filled with a jellylike substance (the nucleus pulposus) contained within a covering (the annulus fibrosis). With a bulging disc, the annulus fibrosis has not yet ruptured, and the nucelus pulposus remains intact.

This is known as a "contained" disc condition. Often, the disc will bulge away from the spinal cord and will not cause symptoms. However, some bulging disc conditions can cause pressure to the nerve root, which can be very painful. The precise areas of pain may differ depending on which part of the spine is affected, but many patients experience nerve pain, numbness and/or tingling in the legs and feet in addition to pain in the back.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bulging Discs
While not as serious as herniated or ruptured discs, bulging discs may still foreshadow future back problems. Because a bulging disc can be a precursor to a herniated disc, a good diagnosis is essential. Sometimes a discussion of medical history and symptoms are enough to diagnose the problem, but an MRI or CT scan are often used as well.

Treatment for bulging discs does not have to be invasive, debilitating or painful. For information on state-of-the-art treatment for this and other back conditions, please visit the website for the Bonati Institute for Advanced Arthroscopic Surgery at www.bonati.com.

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