Battle of the Bulging Disc

By Sara Butler

Throughout your life, you’ve no doubt heard terms such as “herniated disc” or “slipped disc” but what are these conditions? The discs between the vertebrae in your back are meant to last a lifetime, yet over that lifetime many things can and often do go wrong. Here is some information about the discs in your back and how your chiropractor can help if there’s ever a problem.

What is a Disc?

Vertebral discs are small discs between the bones in your spine. They have a tough outer layer and a soft core that allows them to function as shock absorbers in your back. In newborns, these discs are mostly made up of water, but as you age they become harder and offer less cushion and support. Discs cannot repair themselves when they are damaged because they don’t have enough of a blood supply to do so, nor do they have many nerve endings.

What Can Go Wrong?

Over the course of your life there are several things that can go wrong with your discs. These injuries can be caused by something traumatic, in which they are misplaced or crushed. Or you can have an accident that pulls your back and forces a disc out of its normal position. For most people, just growing older causes discs to deteriorate and begin to cause problems.

Common Disc Problems

There are two general categories for disc disorders. They are:

  • Contained discs – This means the discs are intact but protruding out.
  • Non-contained discs – This means the disc has ruptured, pushing fluid or part of the jelly-like core out into the spine.

A contained disc disorder that is quite common is called a bulging disc. When a disc is bulging it can push into the spinal canal. This can cause problems, but often you may have a bulging disc with no symptoms at all.

A non-contained disc disorder that is common is called a herniated disc. This occurs when the tough outer shell of the disc ruptures and causes the inner core to leak out into the spinal canal. The fluid inside of discs is very irritating to the surrounding soft tissues and nerves, so the leakage can cause an inflammatory response that can cause quite a bit of pain. Most herniated discs occur in the lower back and if they press on a nerve root it can cause pain to radiate all the way down one leg, a condition called sciatica.

Your chiropractor is trained in dealing with bulging and herniated discs. They can offer treatment that may help to relieve any pain or discomfort associated with the condition. If you are worried about your discs, discuss it with your chiropractor during your next adjustment at The Joint Chiropractic.

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