Bulging, Protruding And Herniated Discs


The Fredericksburg Car Accident Herniated Disc Injury

John was driving on I-95 North in Fredericksburg, Virginia when a truck traveling 70 m.p.h. crashed into the rear of his car. John’s neck snapped violently backward and forward by the force of impact from this I-95 Fredericksburg truck accident. John was taken by ambulance to Mary Washington Hospital. An MRI of his cervical spine revealed a “bulging disc” at C4-C5, a “protruding disc” at C5-C6, and a “herniated disc” at C6-C7.

Attorney Schwartz, could you explain the difference between a bulging, protruding and herniated disc?

Answer: Knowledge is power. Understanding the anatomy of a spinal disc will give you the answer.

The Two Layers of Our Spinal Disc

A spinal disc (intervertebral disc) is made up of:

  1. an inside jelly-like center under pressure called a “nucleus pulposus”; and
  2. an outside, tough fibrous layer called the “annulus fibrosus” whose function is to hold in the pressurized jelly layer inside the disc.

Bulging Disc

In a bulging disc, the jelly in the center of the disc bulges out more than normal because of damage, weakness and stretching of the outer annulus fibrosis layer. The inside jelly is still confined within the disc. Generally, small disc bulges do not cause compression of the nearby spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord.

Protruding Disc

A protruding disc is a large disc bulge where the inner jelly of the disc forms an outpouching that usually compresses a nearby nerve root. However, the inner jelly is still contained within the annulus fibrosis (outer layer of the disc). The jelly has not herniated through a tear in the outer layer.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is where the jelly in the center of the disc herniates through a tear in the outer layer of the disc. A herniated disc often compresses a nearby nerve root or the fluid-filled sac protecting the spinal cord called the “thecal sac” depending upon the size and location of the herniated disc.

The Fredericksburg Car Accident Herniated Disc Injury

John’s bulging disc at C4-C5 of his cervical spine generally should not cause symptoms of nerve root compression. However, if his protruding disc at C5-C6 and his herniated disc at C6-C7 are compressing a nerve root at their respective levels of John’s cervical spine, John should experience symptoms. Compression of a nerve root in the cervical spine results in pain radiating down the arm often with numbness and tingling. Each spinal level, e.g., C6-C7, produces characteristic findings on clinical examination by a physician.

Free Spinal Disc Injury Consultation

Manassas car accident herniated disc injury lawyer Gerald Schwartz understands spinal disc injuries from the mechanism of injury to why you are having pain. Schwartz teaches other personal injury lawyers how to handle herniated disc injury cases. For a free consultation with Gerald Schwartz, call 1-800-423-0055.