You may have heard these terms before, but keeping them straight is not always easy. Here are the quick details on four common conditions:
Disc Bulge. Each disc is made up of an outer layer of tougher cartilage and an inner layer of softer cartilage. A disc bulge occurs when the outer layer becomes weak and begins to extend outside the space it would normally occupy, like a hamburger too big for its bun. A disc bulge is commonly part of the normal aging process, but can sometimes be painful if the bulge presses on the surrounding nerves.
Herniated Disc. A herniated disc occurs when the stress or pressure within a disc causes a tear in the outer layer and a portion of the inner layer protrudes out of its normal space, like jelly leaking out of a doughnut. If the protrusion presses on a nerve, it may cause pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness.
Stenosis. Stenosis occurs when the open spaces within your spine narrow. This can lead to pressure or irritation of the spinal cord. This pressure can also cause pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness.
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). This condition refers to an overall state of spinal disc dehydration and deterioration. It can result from a combination poor diet and exercise habits, an injury or aging. While degeneration can occur anywhere in your spine, it is more commonly seen in the neck and low back area.