Spinal discs function as cushions in the back, acting as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. The spinal column is flexible thanks to these discs, enabling the torso to bend and twist.
The discs therefore provide flexibility while absorbing shock at the same time. The back’s structure is made up of 23 vertebral discs.
The structural makeup of a disc sheds insight onto its complexity and how it can become herniated.
Structural Makeup of a Spinal Disc
There are two main sections of a disc: an outer portion and an inner portion. The inner region of the disc is soft, whereas the outer region is hard.
The outer, tougher side is the annulus fibrosus, which is composed of collagen fibers called lamellae. These lamellae encircle and protect the soft, inner core.
The inner core of a vertebral disc has similar characteristics to the inner core of a jelly donut. Each disc remains pliable due to its water content.
A disc cannot function properly without hydration. If discs lose hydration (such as with age), they become stiffer – and normal compression and movement becomes a problem.
When discs lose hydration due to age or an injury, they begin to degenerate. This can be painful as the inner core begins to leak from the disc. If the soft material leaks onto the nearby nerve, this is a herniated disc – and the nerve becomes inflamed and causes pain.
Pain from a Herniated Disc
If you experience chronic back pain, a herniated disc may be the cause. The inner substance of the disc’s nucleus could push out completely, all the way through the outer part of the disc.
This creates unnatural pressure on the nerves surrounding the spinal cord, as well as the spinal cord itself. Nerve roots are agitated by the chemical irritants, which are released from the inner core when the disc becomes herniated.
If there is a bulging or herniated disc in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine, sciatica can be a painful result. This can cause weakness, pain, and numbness in the legs. The symptoms can occur in one or both legs.
Who Is at Risk of a Herniated Disc?
There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing a herniated disc, including the following:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Repetitive activities that strain the back (such as repetitive twisting, bending, lifting, etc.)
- Age (ages 20 to 50)
- Gender (men have a higher risk than women)
Back Pain Specialists in Plano, Texas
We put constant pressure on the spine as we walk around, sit down, and twist – even in the slightest. If you are experiencing chronic or intermittent back pain, then you may have a herniated disc.
Tarpon Orthopedics – your sports medicine, spine, and pain specialists – can diagnose your condition and devise a treatment plan just for you. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Call us at (972) 596-1059 or fill out our online form to request an appointment now. We look forward to helping you enjoy a more active, pain-free lifestyle once again.