What is a herniated or "slipped" disc?

If you suffer from a disc bulge or herniation (also known as a “slipped” disc), then most likely you’ve encountered pain in the area of your injury and possibly even pain into your arms or legs as well. An intervertebral disc is a circular liquid nucleus (center), surrounded by annular ligament fibers that separate one vertebrae (bone in the spine) from another.

Think in terms of a jelly donut. The nucleus is the jelly center, while the the annular ligament fibers are the surrounding dough. If you were to compress the jelly donut, adding pressure to it, the jelly would begin spreading out towards the sides. This is similar to a disc bulge, where the nucleus is starting to become displaced, usually due to traumatic injury or excessive pressure in the area of injury (typically, lower back or neck).

If you continue to press down on the donut, the jelly oozes out the sides of the dough. In essence, this is a herniation, where the inner nucleus material is displaced, outside of the area where it should be. When this happens, the body begins an inflammatory response, and thus you may experience pain. If the disc material has begun pressing on a nerve or the spinal cord, you may even experience symptoms like burning, tingling, numbness, or sharp and shooting pain into your extremities (typically, neck injuries manifest into arms, lower back into legs).

If you experience any of these symptoms or are worried you may have a disc herniation, stop in and let us know so we can work toward getting you out of pain and functioning normally and comfortably again.

Erik Krebs