As our bodies age so do our spines. Arthritic changes will be present in the spine which include bulging disks, degenerative disk disease and joint changes. The degree that these changes occur are often related to genetics. A simple bulging disk is actually an extremely common finding on MRIs of the spine and is not an indication for surgery. There are many other structures in the low back and neck that are very sensitive to pain especially the muscles and numerous joints that support the spine. These are more often the cause of low back and neck pain and are treated with conservative therapies. Occasionally a disk will actually herniate out of the normal position between the vertebral bones and cause pressure on spinal nerve resulting in extremity pain. The disk herniation itself is not painful but can result in pain by causing inflammation and/or pressure on these spinal nerves. If extremity pain from a compressive herniated disk cannot be fixed with conservative treatments sometimes surgery is indicated. Our neurosurgeons are trained to read spine MRIs, understand the complicated anatomy of the spine and perform neurological exams to determine appropriate treatment options.