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Disc Bulge


Updated June 05, 2014

Definition: A 'disc bulge' is a word used to describe findings seen on a MRI study of the spinal discs. The spinal discs are soft cushions that rest between the bones of the spine, the vertebrae. When a disc is damaged, it may herniate, or push out, against the spinal cord and spinal nerves.

A 'disc bulge' is a word commonly used to describe a slight outpouching of the disc. The words 'disc bulge' imply that the disc appears symmetric with a small amount of outpouching, and no significant herniation.

Disc bulging is often an incidental finding on MRI. As people age, disc bulges are commonly seen on MRI. Disc bulges can be seen in patients with no symptoms of back problems, especially in patients over the age of 40. A physical examination can help distinguish a disc bulge that is causing problems from a disc bulge that is an incidental finding.


Boden, SD, et al. "Abnormal magnetic-resonance scans of the lumbar spine in asymptomatic subjects. A prospective investigation" J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1990 Mar;72(3):403-8.

Also Known As: Bulging Disc
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