What Does a Bulging Disk Look Like on an MRI?

When a bulging disc appears on a magnetic resonance imaging test, or MRI, the disc protrudes from its accustomed place between vertebrae, according to the Laser Spine Institute. It resembles a hamburger that sticks out beyond the edges of its bun, Mayo Clinic explains.

Bulging discs are common and usually display no symptoms, states the Laser Spine Institute. They are part of the typical aging process. The outside of a disc weakens and is pushed out by pressure from inside the disc. However, if the protrusion pushes on a nerve, pain occurs.

If the bulging disc is in the lower back, pain often extends to the hips, buttocks, legs and feet, explains the Laser Spine Institute. With neck discs, pain sometimes travels all the way to the fingers.