Disc Herniation or Disc Bulge Diagnosis, What’s the difference?

In radiology, many clinical terms exist which can prove to be confusing for the layperson. Many terms may mean the same things, and other terms may mean very similar things while still being used interchangeably in common parlance. Still other terms may sound like they mean similar things despite being completely unrelated.

Focal Disk Herniation

Disk herniations and disk bulges are both types of “degenerative disk lesions”, or, protrusions of the disk from its natural circumference. Generally speaking, the difference between a disk herniation and a disk bulge is where the disk protrusion occurs.

Once you have been given the diagnosis of a disk bulge, you must consider that the protrusion is an all-around expansion (bulge) of the disk material from the vertebrae, occurring on over 50% of its circumference.

With the diagnosis of a herniation, the disk protrudes in less than 50% of its circumference, or 180°.      In a diagnosis of a so-called “broad-based” herniation, the protrusion occurs any where from the upper limit of 50% to the lesser 25% of the circumference of the disk.   Yet the “focal disk herniation” is one in which less than 25%, or 90°, of the disk’s circumference protrudes, please view the picture to the left.

Disk Herniation obliterating the spinal nerve

Accuracy in diagnosis is the key, once you are diagnosed, the rest is a re-education and modification activities of daily living as well as managing the pain, restoring range of motion and ultimately, function.  At my office, we have had a great deal of success treating all aspects of disk bulges and disk hernias.   The methods used are consistent with the latest techniques which are both affordable and reliable. Our office is in network with over 30 different insurance carriers. Your insurance provides the majority of the costs.  No insurance?  No problem, we have an in house plan that offers affordable care for those who are uninsured in these trying times.   Call us now for a consultation.  (201) 487-3131.

Yours in health,

Dr. Meimaris


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