The discs of your spine, sandwiched between your vertebrae, consist of a jellylike material (the nucleus pulposus) contained within a thin casing (the annulus fibrosis). Often, with aging, one of more discs in your spine will bulge slightly due to a variety of factors. Bulging discs can be caused by spinal bone spurs pushing out on the disc, collapsed space between vertebrae, and other degenerative conditions.
A bulging disc is known as a "contained" spinal disorder because the nucleus pulposus remains encased in the annulus fibrosis. At this stage, a bulging disc is not necessarily a serious problem. In fact, bulging discs are common among much of the population and many people do not experience symptoms. A bulging disc becomes problematic when it presses up against the nerves in the spinal column, causing numbness, weakness, tingling and/or pain in the arm and/or leg.
Bulging Disc Symptoms Depend on Location The precise nature of symptoms from a bulging disc will depend on where in the spine the bulging disc is located. Some patients with bulging discs may experience symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, weakness and leg pain (sciatica), others will feel arm pain and in the other regions of the body. The diagnosis for a bulging disc is usually made after a complete medical history has been taken and MRIs, CT scans, and/or X-rays have confirmed the presence of a bulging disc.
Understanding What Causes a Bulging Disc Bulging discs are a relatively common condition affecting a sizeable segment of the population.
Bulging discs can result from several causes. Often the condition occurs simply because aging deteriorates the disc. Repetitive movements can also cause a bulging disc, as can strenuous lifting and twisting.