Are Bulging Spinal Discs Normal?

Category: Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 18, 2014

bulging discBulging discs in the spine are one of the more common conditions we see in patients. Sometimes they are the result of an injuy; at other times, they are due to disc degeneration over time. Regardless of the cause, many patients we see wonder if bulging discs in the spine are “normal.”

Normal vs. Natural

Normal is a subjective term. Perhaps a better question would be: are bulging discs “natural”? The question of normalcy usually comes from younger patients – those under the age of 30 or so – who consider themselves too young to have such a condition. But the truth of the matter is that bulging discs can affect anyone of any age. Children and teens can sustain bulging discs while playing sports or in a car accident just as easily as a middle aged patient. It all depends on the patient and their specific circumstances.

What Causes Discs to Bulge?

Before we dig into the normalcy of a disc bulge, let’s touch briefly on what causes a disc to bulge. Bulging discs can be caused by any of the following:

  • Acute trauma, such as a sporting injury, car accident injury, or slip and fall accident.
  • Wear and tear over time as the body ages
  • Degenerative disc disease

Sometimes, you won’t even know if you have a bulging dics, because they can be “silent” or asymptomatic. However, bulging discs can cause pain and numbness, especially when they impact the nerves around the spinal colum or the spinal cord itself. Discs can bulge anywhere along the spine, but it’s most common for them to bulge in the neck and lower back.

To a certain extent, bulging discs can be considered natural, and it’s possible to live a normal life if they aren’t causing symptoms.   They are most common in elderly patients whose bodies have gone through a lot of ordinary wear and tear throughout their lives. In these cases, bulging discs may be considered natural. In any case, symptomatic bulging discs should always be diagnosed and treated by a qualified spine doctor.

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