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Spine and Back Health

Bulge disc

07/23/2008

Question:

I have RA in all my joints that can possiblely have RA in. I got a CT scan of my lower back and my doctor told me that I had a bulge disc in my lower back. I have no pain in my back at all. But for the past 2-3 months my lower back has been stiff. Can a bulge disc cause stiffness?

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. Yes, a bulging disc can cause back stiffness, but usually only associated with pain. The pain from the bulging disc causes a lot of muscle spasm and tightness, which can make the back feel stiff. A much more common cause of painless back stiffness is arthritis, and I’d be very suspicious that your RA may have more to do with the stiffness than a bulging disc. Also, CT scans are not good ways to diagnose a bulging disc – usually an MRI is necessary to prove that there’s a bulging disc. I hope this helps. Good luck.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University