Herniated Disc and Bulging Disc Pain


A bulging disc is like letting air out of a bike tire. The disc sags and looks like it is bulging outward. With a herniated disc, the outer covering of the disc has a hole or tear. This causes the nucleus pulposus (gel-like center of the disc) to leak into the spinal canal. This substance pushes on the bundle of nerves (spinal cord) causing pain throughout the body. 

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Difference Between A Bulging Disc and A Herniated Disc

Our discs deteriorate and bulge downward as we grow older, so a bulging disc is usually caused by degeneration which naturally happens as we age.

On the other hand, pain from a herniated disc happens abruptly and usually affects one individual nerve root. For example a herniated disc sometimes is caused by improper lifting technique.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

How long does pain from a herniated disc last?

Four to six weeks is the average amount of time it takes for a herniated disk to heal, but it can get better sooner. Healing time– depends on how severe the herniation was and where it occurred. The biggest factor in healing a herniated disk is time, because most often it will resolve on its own. If you notice the pain longer than 2 months, you may need to consult a medical professional.

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How do I know I have herniated discs?

  • If you have a herniated lumbar disc, you may feel pain that radiates from your low back area, down one or both legs, and sometimes into your feet (called sciatica). You may feel a pain like an electric shock that is severe whether you stand, walk, or sit.
  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) usually provides the most accurate assessment of the lumbar spine area, showing where a herniation has occurred and which nerves are affected. It can show where the herniated disc is and how it is impinging on the nerve root.

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We only have one spine

Contact Carolinas Pain Center when you feel back pain.  We have convenient locations in Charlotte, NC and Huntersville, NC.  Learn more about what is actually causing your pain.  Our group of providers and pain specialists will create an individualized, multidisciplinary approach to care and a personal treatment plan.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”20624″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]



Jo Jordan Tamara Shawver MorganJames Weinstein. 2003 Dec;(10):1323-35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12603933/