Herniated Disc vs. Slipped Disc

Dec 13, 2021

Back pain and neck pain are common symptoms if you’ve been injured in a car accident. When you visit your Marietta car accident doctors, they can help determine what is causing your back and neck pain. One common reason why you might be experiencing pain in your neck or back is due to a spinal disc issue. The spinal discs are what separate and cushion vertebrae in your spinal column. When one or more of these spinal discs become damaged, it can lead to pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, and other uncomfortable symptoms. There are many different types of spinal disc injuries that can occur from a car accident injury.

Types of Spinal Disc Issues

Here’s what you need to know about each to help understand the differences and what your treatment options will be like.

Slipped Disc

A slipped disc isn’t actually an official medical term, though it is commonly used among people to refer to a spinal disc issue. If a friend or relative tells you they have a slipped disc, they might be referring to a herniated disc or a bulging disc. A slipped disc is a non-medical term that is typically used to describe symptoms of a spinal disc injury.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc refers to a spinal disc issue when the soft, jelly-like center of a spinal disc protrudes from its tough outer shell. A disc can become cracked or torn due to a strong force of pressure on the spine during a car accident. If this occurs and the outer shell of the spinal disc ruptures, the inner contents of the disc can compress a nearby nerve and cause pain and other symptoms.

Bulging Disc

A bulging disc refers to a spinal disc issue where the disc is under a lot of pressure, but the tough outer shell does not crack or tear. Instead, the spinal disc may flatten out and spread outside of its normal space. When the spinal disc bulges like this, it can press into nearby nerve endings in the spinal column and cause painful symptoms.

Treatment for a Herniated Disc

In order to determine if you have a herniated disc, your car accident doctor may want to run diagnostic imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI. These types of scans provide your doctor with detailed images of your spine and the spinal discs that separate each vertebra. Locating the herniated disc also helps to identify what nerves may be affected by the spinal disc issue. If you have a herniated disc in your neck, you may experience pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness that extends into your shoulder and arm. Similarly, a herniated disc in your lower back can cause those same symptoms in your hip, buttock, and leg.

If you have a herniated disc from a car accident, your doctor will develop a treatment plan that addresses your specific symptoms. Part of your treatment process will involve pain management and help reduce any discomfort that may be affecting your mobility or range of motion. Non-invasive treatment options for a herniated disc can include hot and cold compresses, chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, stretching, and exercises. In the case of a more serious spinal disc issue, your doctor may discuss minimally invasive options or the possibility of surgery to resolve the herniated disc.

Treatment for a Bulging Disc

Your doctor will also want to run diagnostic imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan to determine if you are dealing with a bulging disc vs. herniated disc. If you have a bulging disc, then the spinal disc may have flattened and affected the natural shock absorption between two vertebrae. The sudden force of impact during a car accident can cause a disc to bulge or protrude, and you may experience similar symptoms of pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling where the bulging disc is located. Those symptoms can also occur in areas controlled by any pinched or compressed nerves. There are many treatment options for a bulging disc, ranging from non-invasive to surgical interventions. It is possible to experience lasting relief from a bulging disc with a car accident chiropractor or spinal doctor who uses minimally invasive techniques to resolve the bulging disc.

If you are experiencing pain, tingling, and numbness after a car accident, then visit your Marietta car accident doctors as soon as possible. You will learn about a herniated disc vs. slipped disc vs. bulging disc, and find out what is affecting you. Then our team of multi-specialty car accident doctors can help you experience lasting relief.