Font Size
A
A
A

Bulging Discs


A bulging spinal disc occurs when the disc's soft, jellylike center (nucleus) is squeezed into cracks in the disc's outer covering, weakening and stretching that covering. As a disc bulges out from between the neighboring bones (vertebrae), it can press on nerves that travel to the legs or arms and can cause numbness, weakness, or pain.

Normally, spinal discs absorb shock and provide flexibility within the spine. With age, spinal discs break down. They become drier, less flexible, and more easily damaged. Injury and prolonged overuse or misuse can speed the formation of tiny tears in a disc's capsule. People who smoke cigarettes are at increased risk of disc deterioration.

In most cases, symptoms of a bulging disc can be managed with nonsurgical treatment and will go away over time. In a few cases, surgery is needed.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last RevisedMarch 12, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.



NIH talks about Ebola on WebMD


Medical Dictionary