1. The holy grail of soft tissue injuries is the herniated disc. Its first cousin is the bulging disc. Simply put, a bulging disc injury occurs when the shape of the disc changes so that part of the disc bulges outside its usual boundaries between the spinal vertebrae.
2. A herniated disc is more severe; the soft material inside the disc bulges out also, and may leak. Imagine, if you will, squeezing a jelly donut so that it starts to ooze. Note: Not all disc herniations hurt. And you can have pain without a disc herniation. Pain may come and go; many people have good days and bad days.
3. These types of injuries are bad for two reasons. First, over time the injured disc can lose its flexibility and ability to cushion the spinal vertebrae. This could lead to rubbing and irritation, and maybe arthritis between the vertebrae. Very bad.
4. Second, the spine is a miracle of engineering – there’s not a lot of extra space anywhere. So a bulging or herniated disc frequently moves against something, and that something is commonly a nerve root. This can irritate the nerve root and prevent it from functioning correctly. In extreme cases the nerve root can die.
5. This can lead to pain, numbness, muscle weakness and a host of other problems. Another type of spinal nerve injury: through the spine’s movement and whipping back and forth the nerve root gets “pinched” by one of the anatomical structures next to it. These nerve injuries are sometimes referred to as radiculopathy or radiculitis