"Annular bulging" refers to a protrusion from a spinal disc that is still contained by the annulus, connective fibers that give the spinal discs strength. When these fibers are torn or compromised, the condition is known as a herniated disc.
Annular bulging is treated with anti-inflammatory medication and usually heals within several weeks. In contrast, herniated discs may require surgery. Degeneration due to age and excessive physical stress on the spine are the most common causes for annular bulging. Genetic predisposition is also a factor. People suffering from osteoarthritis have a higher risk for annular bulging and herniated discs. Exercise to strengthen the back muscles, the use of proper lumbar support when lifting, and weight loss are preventive measures against annular bulging.