A disc bulge or herniation is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain among people ages 20-65 that we see in Rochester.

What is a disc herniation?

Our spinal column consists of multiple bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebra are intervertebral discs, which allow for force absorption and movement of our spines.

Intervertebral discs in our spine have strong outer fibers called the annulus fibrosis with an inner "jelly" like material called the nucleus pulposus.

When the outer fibers wear down, the inner "jelly" can migrate toward the outer fibers resulting in nerve irritation and pain.

Bulging Disc vs Herniated Disc:

While often used interchangeably, a bulging disc is when the inner "jelly" part of your disc has migrated out and is putting pressure on your spinal nerves but has not broken through. A disc bulge can also be called a protrusion.

A disc herniation is when an actual tear or perforation of the annular fibers causes the "jelly" to squeeze out. Essentially, a herniation is a more severe disc bulge and is more likely to cause pain. Herniations come in two forms: extrusion and sequestration.

Research shows that about half of the people with a disc bulge or herniation won't experience any pain; however, it is often severe for those who do.

Why does a disc herniation occur?

Causes and risk factors include:

  • Trauma
  • Repetitive motions for long periods
  • Improper heavy lifting
  • Lifting and twisting
  • Manual labor
  • Arthritis
  • Auto accidents

Improper core stabilization causes excess strain on discs which can create a bulge or herniation over time. 


How do I know if I have a disc injury?

While the only way to know definitively is through an MRI; however, our examination and McKenzie (MDT) assessment can predict if a disc herniation has occurred. Most disc injuries and low back pain respond well with conservative care, and imaging isn't necessary. 


In your neck, pain can stay local or travel to your shoulder blade or down your arm. 

Low back:

People will often find sitting for long periods painful and experience stiffness in the mornings. Symptoms can include pain directly in your lower back or radiating symptoms down your hip, leg, and even down to your toes. The pain can come on over time or from a sudden movement, usually a lifting or twisting movement. 

Skare Spine and Performance's method of treatment:

We have many tools to diagnose and treat disc pain:

After you are out of the severe pain phase, we will transition to rehabilitation to help strengthen your abdominal wall and prevent this from occurring again.

Our first goal in the office will be finding ways to reduce the pain from your extremities and get it to "centralize" to your spine. We often do that by finding a pain-free repetitive motion of your spine.

After that, we will work on restoring proper joint motion and muscle activation to prevent this from occurring again and progressing. In most cases, patients with a disc herniation can avoid surgery or injections.

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"Dr. Skare is very knowledgeable and was able to figure out what the problem with my low back very quickly. He explained everything he did to help educate me on chiropractic. After one treatment he had me up and walking like my old self again."

Taylor A., Rochester

A disc bulge or herniation in the low back can often result in sciatica-like symptoms. If you think you are experiencing sciatica, learn more about it here.

Sciatic Nerve Pain