Your spinal discs, which are the ligamentous pads in between the bones of the spine, have two primary components:
1. The Nucleus Pulposus, which is the gelatinous center of the disc that helps give the spine its flexibility and
2. The Annulus Fibrosis, which are the strong fibrous circular rings that contain the nucleus and attach the disc to the vertebrae.
Your spinal discs are very strong and can handle tremendous amounts of stress. However, like anything, they have limits. When the annular fibers weaken and give way to the nucleus, pressure is placed on the delicate spinal cord or nerve roots. This is called a disc bulge or herniation. There are various names for particular types of bulges or herniations depending on the nature and severity of the problem.
The spinal discs are living tissue, so they are also subject to the overall health of the internal environment. This, of course, is for the most part a reflection of the patient's lifestyle. So, for various reasons, spinal discs breakdown, bulge or herniate. Typically, the disc will bulge before it herniates in most degenerative conditions which develop over time.
The fact is much of the population has a bulging or herniated disc and experience no symptoms. That's right! It's possible to have this and not even know it. Not all cervical or lumbar disc bulges or herniations cause pain and/or dysfunction. A herniated or bulging disc in the lumbar spine can cause low back pain, sciatica pain, leg pain, numbness, tingling, and muscular weakness. Muscle spasm, swelling, and loss of motion can also occur.
What can be done?
We use a combination of chiropractic, spinal decompression, and physical therapy to address these conditions. We also have medical doctors, if needed, to help co-manage difficult cases. If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc (usually by MRI) or suspect you may have one, we would like to meet with you.