What Is the Difference Between a Pinched Nerve and a Bulging Disc?

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What Is the Difference Between a Pinched Nerve and a Bulging Disc?

If you’ve been experiencing back pain, you may have also learned that it’s not always simple to figure out where it starts.

Some referred nerve pain may spread through your body even if it isn’t where the pain actually originated. Some pain is also hard to describe, other than “Ouch! Please help!” But specific words like ”dull ache,” “sharp,” or “burning” can assist a medical professional in figuring out what could be happening and how to help.

Two types of back pain that may be encountered include pinched nerves or bulging discs. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference just by what you feel, but there are other ways to distinguish what might be happening when you communicate with your chiropractor. 

Pinched Nerves

All communication between body and brain must pass through a narrow part of the vertebrae and foramen. When inflammation or direct compression pushes nearby tissue into the foramen, it can cause pain to move through the route of a nerve and through the body. Pressure can come from nearby tendons, discs or bony parts of the foramen. 

There can be a variety of reasons for pinched nerves including injury/trauma, repetitive stress, obesity, even poor posture. Luckily, if the pressure is reduced or removed, the pain usually disappears quickly. But if the compression continues, the pain will continue as well, along with possible longer-term nerve damage.

People who may think they have this condition may encounter sharp pain in parts of their body, and may also feel it diminish if they change their position (lying vs. sitting vs. standing) since this could alter the pressure. 

Bulging Discs

The discs of the spinal system are sometimes described as hamburger patties that alternate between the bones, or the buns, using the same analogy. With a bulging disc, it means part of the ‘patty’ has shifted outside of the bun.

It’s similar, but generally not as severe as a herniated disc, which is when a disc not only bulges but ruptures or cracks, sometimes leaking tissue.  

Pain from a bulging disc can also compress nerves and cause pain, inflammation, swelling, numbness and weakness, especially in the arms or legs. Long-term bulging can also lead to permanent nerve damage. 

Consider Treatment

In the case of back, hip or leg pain, attempting a self-diagnosis is tricky. Instead, a medical professional can provide a more accurate diagnosis of what’s happening, such as a bulging disc or pinched nerves. Contact us today to receive a free consultation and get to the root of your pain. At Arkansas Pioneer Chiropractic Health Centre in Arlington, we use non-surgical treatments to treat the cause of your pain, not just the symptoms. 

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