Bulging Lumbar Disc


Being fairly common in both young adults and older people, bulging disc can affect just about anyone. Most times they are not a cause for panic and are often discovered by accident while having another medical problem examined. Abnormalities, such as bulging or protruding discs, are seen at high rates on MRIs in patients both with and without back pain. Some discs most likely begin to bulge as a part of both the aging process and the degeneration process of the intervertebral disc. A bulging disc is not necessarily a sign that anything serious is happening to your spine.
It is time to consider the bulging disc serious once the bulging disc bulges enough to cause narrowing of the spinal canal. If there are bone spurs present on the facet joints behind the bulging disc, the combination may cause narrowing of the spinal canal in that area. This is sometimes referred to as segmental spinal stenosis. A lumbar bulging disc is a bulging disc that affects the lumbar spine region.
Each of the twenty four vertebrae in the spine is identified by a code. The lumbar region of the spine is where the low back officially begins. The lumbar region of the spine is directly below the cervical and thoracic regions and above the sacrum. The code that identifies the lumbar region of the spine is L1-L5 and is most frequently involved in back pain because it carries most of the bodies weight and is subject to the largest forces and stresses along the spine.
L1 is approximately where the true spinal cord ends. This is where it divides into many different nerve roots that travel to the lower body and legs. The cauda equina makes up this collection of nerve roots. Cauda equine means horse’s tail and describes the continuation of the nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord.
Intervertebral discs are flat, round structures that are about three quarters of an inch thick. Being made of tough outer rings of tissue called annulus fibrosis they can be found between each vertebra. The inside of the disc is filled with a soft white gel-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. Flat, circular plates of cartilage connect to the vertebrae above and below each disc. Intervertebral discs separate the vertebrae, but they act as shock absorbers for the spine. They compress when weight is put on them and spring back when the weight is removed.
Intervertebral discs make up about one-third of the length of the spine and constitute the largest organ in the body without its own blood supply. The discs receive their blood supply through movement as they soak up nutrients. The discs expand while at rest allowing them to soak up nutrient rich fluid. When this process is inhibited through repetitive movement, injury or poor posture, the discs become thinner and more prone to injury. This may be a cause of the gradual degeneration of the structure and function of the disc over time.