Is this disc bulging or herniated?


Q: Hello I am trying to get a second opinion on an MRI that I had on my lower back. I was in a major rear end car accident January 10th 2014. I hurt my lower back and neck and developed tmj of my jaw. I had mri done and they said they see 4 bulging discs but I think I see a disc herniation. The doctor said bulging discs don't cause pain but my lower back always hurts.

Here is a picture of the mri that I took off my computer with my phone not the best quality but you can see the disc I am talking about at the bottom

Symptoms:  Lower back pain
Is this disc bulging or her...-1 Is this disc bulging or her...-2

A:   Thank you for your question and thank you for submitting the MRI. On the picture provided, it is hard to appreciate any significant disc bulge but a mild bulge or mild herniation or both are certainly possible and in the end it may not matter.

When experiencing a major trauma such as the motor vehicle accident, it is hard to determine the source of the pain ... it may be trauma to the bony spine, the disc or simply nerve damage. Psychological factors and past health status also play a significant role.

Both disc bulges and disc herniation can be the source of pain in traumatic accidents and the focus should be on recovery. If dedicated phsyical therpay for at least a 6 month period does not significantly relieve the pain, surgical opinion should be considered. Surgery is often done if the quality of life is impacted and in addition to pain, there is numbness, muscle weakness and tingling of the affected area.

I hope this was helpful.

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