What are Bulging Discs?
The disks in your spine act as cushions between the vertebrae. They consist of an outer layer of tough cartilage surrounded by softer cartilage in the center. An easy way to picture them is like miniature jelly doughnuts, perfectly sized to fit between your vertebrae.
Bulging discs protrude outward like the name suggests. When a disc between the bones of your body bulges, the annulus is what swells, leaving the soft tissue inside unaffected. This condition affects nearby nerves, gradually causing pain in the buttocks, legs, or back. It can also cause various other problems if not treated.
The symptoms and causes of bulging discs are similar to those of slipped discs. Both conditions affect a similar section of the population, including overweight individuals, desk-bound employees, and employees in physically intense industries like construction that involve regular heavy lifting. Other factors, such as bad posture, weak back muscles, and improper sitting or standing, can also contribute to these conditions.
Diagnosing Bulging Discs
Here are a few different methods and procedures that can help in identifying bulging discs in the body:
Computed Tomography Scan
More commonly known as a CT Scan, this diagnostic procedure involves taking rotating x-rays of your body from various angles, rather than just one angle. You are positioned in a tunnel-shaped device and a computer combines these rotating x-ray images to create slices or a 3D image of the area of your body with the bulged disc. This method is more effective than a standard X-ray as it scans your body from multiple angles, providing more detailed results.
An X-ray, using electromagnetic waves, is commonly employed to identify bulged discs in the body. This quick scan produces detailed images of the bone structures, facilitating the visualization of swollen discs. Rest assured, the radiation exposure is minimal with this procedure, posing no cause for concern.
The procedure is typically conducted by either an X-ray technician or a radiologist. While an X-ray is useful for capturing images of bone structures, it alone is insufficient for identifying bulging discs in the body.
Unlike an X-ray, this test examines the relationship between the stack of bones and the discs in your back. Doctors utilize this diagnostic procedure when CT and/or MRI scans do not provide sufficient information about the bones and discs. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan employs radio waves, magnets, and a computer to create detailed images of the inner sections of your body. Through these diagnostic procedures, doctors can identify and assess the severity of a bulging disc between the bones in your back.
If you or someone you know is concerned about the possibility of bulging discs, schedule an appointment with us today, and let’s start your healing journey!