Schrickel Health & Wellness Blog

Questions about Disc Herniation?

April 7, 2023

Questions about Disc Herniation?

Intervertebral discs are positioned between the vertebrae in the spine. There are two main components of the disc, an outside and an inside. The outside of a disc, called the annulus fibrosis, is made from woven collagen fibers. The center is called the nucleus pulposis and is a gelatinous like solution. The gelatinous middle allows the disc to compress and expand based on impact and movement. The intervertebral discs serve many purposes, including allowing movement of the spine, creating space between the vertebrae, and acting as shock absorbers. 

Problems, such as a herniation, can result when there is a weakened disc or if trauma occurs. When this happens, the gelatinous inner nucleus pulposus pushes outwards into the weakened outer annulus pulposis layer. This causes the disc to bulge or herniate outwards. The inner disc material can also push through the outer layer entirely. When either scenario occurs, the nerves around your spine can become physically compressed. Even if the disc herniation does not physically compress a nerve, the resulting inflammatory response can lead to the nearby nerves becoming sensitized, or more easily irritated. Either scenario can lead to localized pain and/or discomfort in your arms or legs, such as weakness, pins and needles, numbness, or a shooting sensation.

Disc herniations can occur in people of all ages, but most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40. The most common mechanism of injury occurs when people bend forward and turn. This is the motion that occurs when you are shoveling and reaching to pick up an object. The pain of a disc herniation can range from instantly debilitating to a growing mild nuisance.

Discs can degenerate over time. If there is consistent stress on the disc, it can deteriorate and lose some of its height. When this happens, the disc loses some of its capability to move, ability to absorb shocks and stressors. When this happens, it is called degenerative disc disease.


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