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Old 05-22-2009, 09:59 AM   #1
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bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

Hello,

I never posted on this board before but I have 2 weeks till I see a Spine Specialist and am looking for some answers from people who have hx with back conditions and might be able to help.

Been having some on and off lower back pain and MRI recently showed a few things that surprised me since the pain is not that severe.

L3-4 - small herniation with crowding of the L4 nerve

L4-5 - mild disc bulge wtih small annular tear

L5-S1 -disc desiccation with mild diffuse disc bulge and facet hypertrophy.

No stenosis or anything else. So for all the back experts out there..what is the difference between a bulge and a herniation and what is disc desiccation - is that arthritis? I am sort of shocked because my pain is not all that bad. I am 40 yrs. old and very healthy and athletic so I don't know what to think of all of this. Can someone have these things and not have too much pain? Thanks!!!

 
Old 05-23-2009, 07:01 AM   #2
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Re: bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

I was told that a bulging disk is the same as a herniated disk. I have both. Maybe a herniated disk is just a little worse than a bulging one?

 
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Old 05-23-2009, 08:36 AM   #3
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Re: bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

The only real difference is the amount of bulging. A herniation has a set minimal amount that the disc is over the edge of the vertebrae, a bulge is anything less than that....
as far as dessication goes, it means that the disc is drying out and has less of a height than it did, compared to the others.
It happens to everyone as they get older. It's a normal finding, and for most , does not contribute to causing pain, although in some others, it might.

 
Old 05-23-2009, 11:36 AM   #4
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Re: bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

Thank you for your responses. So maybe that is why I never had alot of pain - seems you can have these things and not always have pain? So it seems that a bulge is just a lesser degree then a herniation - thanks for your feedback!

 
Old 05-24-2009, 02:06 PM   #5
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Re: bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

From my research and talking to different radiologist I have found that a bulging disc is generally 5mm or less and a herniated disc is 5mm or more. It seems to me that there is a lot of wiggle room on what the radiologist call things. I suggest you get a copy of your actual films and take those with you when you visit different doctors. And make sure that the doctor that you see actual looks at the films instead of only relying on the report.

 
Old 05-25-2009, 01:48 PM   #6
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Re: bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

"THE DISC BULGE: The First Step Toward Disc Herniation"

 
Old 05-26-2009, 05:46 AM   #7
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Re: bulging vs. herniated disc - what is the difference?

Thanks..I do have my films and will be taking them to my Sports MD and then if warrented a Spine/Back Specialist. ..I suppose if I am not having any major pain I don't need a spine specialist..

Wondering..Does a bugle ALWAYS turn into a herniation or can I go about my life forever and it/they can stay bulged or better yet go back to normal? Like I said I never had major pain - just some mild stuff every now and then and I am a pretty fit and thin person so I hope that is on my side...Age..well can't control that part! Thanks again for the clarifications!

 
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