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Is it normal to have bulging discs or herniated discs?

No, a normal disc does not bulge; however, with aging and/or injury, the outer anulus fibrosus can tear to allow the nucleus pulposus material to bulge through it resulting in a bulge of the disc. These bulges are commonly found on MRIs of asymptomatic (no pain) patients in about 76% of people. In patients with pain, 96% of their MRIs show disc herniations. (Boos, Spine 20(24)) Disc bulges and disc herniation occur with age due to degeneration and dehydration of the disc. Varying factors like the size of the spinal canal into which the disc is bulging plays a large role in whether a disc bulge causes pain or not.
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