Key Differences Between Herniated and Bulging Disc Injuries


Some seemingly minor neck or back injuries can actually be hiding a much more serious, debilitating form of trauma known as herniated or bulging disc. In addition to the pain and discomfort, it is likely that you will be limited in performing your job; the most common form of treatment – prescription narcotics – may also prevent you from working. If you do not get any relief from rest and physical therapy, you may need to undergo invasive surgery on your spine for a herniated or bulging disc.

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between herniated and bulging discs. Your physician can provide a detailed medical description, but an Anchorage, AK personal injury attorney can handle the distinction as it affects your rights in a claim.


Medical Definitions and the Anatomy of the Spine

Your spine contains 33 vertebrae which are surrounded by discs, i.e., materials that cushion the bones and act as shock absorbers. When fully intact and properly functioning, these discs allow you to stretch, twist, and bend through spine movement. Many medical experts describe these discs as tiny jelly donuts, in which gel-like material is encased within a thicker protective coating.

In the event of an impact or other trauma, the jelly donut may sustain damage. Physicians at the Mayo Clinic explain the two resulting medical conditions:

  • A disc is described as bulging when it becomes dislodged from its normal position. When out of place, it puts painful pressure on surrounding nerves of the spine.
  • With a herniated disc, the gel-like center of the disc protrudes further out from its position in the vertebrae. The gel can no longer provide shock absorption for the delicate bones, and there will be even more excruciating pressure on nerve tissues.


Accidents are the Most Common Cause of Disc Injuries

 Both types of disc injuries may be the result of physical trauma, usually due to a personal injury accident. Because of the violent force, a bulging or herniated disc could occur from:

  • Car and truck crashes;
  • Motorcycle, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, often because victims have no metal barrier to protect them from the comparatively massive size of the vehicle that strikes them;
  • Dangerous conditions on property;
  • Maritime and airplane accidents; and,
  • Workplace injuries.


Monetary Damages for Victims of Bulging or Herniated Disc Injuries

When an accident happens, it is usually because of careless, negligent acts. You can recover compensation if you can prove that the responsible person or entity failed to exercise reasonable care, and you suffered a bulging or herniated disc as a result. If successful, you may be entitled to damages for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and many other types of losses.


Schedule a Free Consultation with an Alaska Personal Injury Lawyer

If you sustained bulging or herniated disc injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, it is important to retain experienced legal counsel to assist with your claim. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Power & Power Law in Anchorage, Alaska. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation to explain how these cases work.