Many times patients involved in auto accidents will have an MRI of the spine and will find that they have a bulging disc that they didn’t know existed before. The main question is what should they do about it? Many studies have shown disc bulges to be present in half the population with no back pain. Of course, in those situations when there is no back pain, nothing needs to be done. However, if a car accident causes this bulging disc to be symptomatic, then further studies can be done such as discograms, which may detect the presence of an tear in the disc that was not seen on the MRI. If the discogram reveals that the disc is the source of the pain, then further treatment can be provided to treat and alleviate the pain. However, with that said, we must not forget that a bulging disc can be a normal finding on an MRI and we must look for other casues of back pain as well. These could include sprains or strains, muscle and ligament injuries, facet syndrome, stenosis herniated discs and annular tears.
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Source: "Is Your Back Pain Due to a Slipped Disc?" posted by Health Xchange, Fit to Post Health on July 12, 2013.