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The pad or shock absorber between the vertebrae in your back is called an intervertebral disc. These discs are much like a jelly doughnut. The dough portion being the thick, tough ligamentous material around the outside. The jelly portion of the doughnut represents the gelatinous material contained in the middle. When a disc is injured or damaged some of the thick ligamentous material is torn, allowing the jelly to migrate out of the center which is what creates the bulge. Disc bulges are also called disc protrusions. This can cause irritation of the nerves and other structures of your spine. Disc bulges or disc protrusions can lead to more serious conditions such as disc herniations or disc extrusions. A disc extrusion is when the jelly portion of the disc extends out past the outside margin of the tough ligamentous material of the disc.
The location and severity of symptoms will vary depending on where in the spine the disc bulge occurs and in which direction.