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What is the difference between a disc bulge and slipped disc (disc herniation)?

Spine Health Sport Medicine Orthopaedic Surgery
DOCTOR’S ANSWER (2)

Usually, "disc bulge" in a radiologist's report describes disc herniation. It is a small disc protrusion due to the natural ageing process. More serious/larger disc protrusion or extruded disc are called "slipped disc" which will require surgery as treatment. "Disc bulge" is used due to a lack of universal standard term to describe this condition. 

 


Dr Fong Shee Yan
MBBS, FAMS, FRCS, MMed Ortho

MOUNT ALVERNIA HOSPITAL
820 THOMSON ROAD
Singapore 574623

231 views 2 Aug 2019
The disc has a tough fibrous outer ring (annulus) and a softer core (nucleus pulposus, NP) that cushions the spine when we jump. With degeneration of the spine, the annulus weakens and gradually tears allow the NP to push its way out towards the spinal canal. With a weak annulus, the disc will bulge backwards into the spinal canal and may narrow the canal and cause compression on the spinal cord or nerve roots. When the annulus is completely torn, the NP will be able to slip ( or herniate, prolapse) out causing more severe compression resulting in severe pain, tingling and even weakness in the arms or legs.

Dr James Tan
FRCSEd (Gen Surg) (RCS, Edinburgh, United Kingdom), FRCS (Gen Surg) (RCPS, Glasgow, United Kingdom), FRCS (Neurosurgery) (RCS, Edinburgh, United Kingdom)

Neurosurgery International, Gleneagles Hospital

6A Napier Road #02-42 
Gleneagles Annexe Block 
Singapore 258500


194 views 22 Aug 2019
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Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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