From the second vertebra (spinal bone) at the top of your neck (cervical) to the lowest lumbar vertebra in your lower back, you have intervertebral discs that connect these bones and act as shock absorbers. These discs allow for mobility in your neck and back, absorb impact great and small, and create spaces for nerves that control every system in the body to exit the spine. Suffice it to say, these discs are very important structures.
The intervertebral disc is made up of 2 parts. The outer layer is made up of a thick, tough fibrous tissue called the annulus fibrosus. The center of the disc is a glob of a gel like substance called the nucleus pulposus. The annulus is the strength of the disc while the nucleus aids in shock absorption. The best way to visualize the disc is to think of it as a jelly doughnut, with the annulus represented by the doughnut, and the nucleus represented by the jelly. If you apply pressure to one side of the doughnut, the jelly will move to the other side. If you apply too much pressure, the jelly can eventually break through the outer layer of doughnut and ooze out. This is how the disc herniates.
Trauma great and small can lead to a disc herniation. Lifting a heavy object, a fall, or a whiplash injury can lead to herniation. But remember, all a herniation requires is application of pressure, like the jelly doughnut. Therefore, seemingly small amounts of force from bending, twisting, sitting, and poor posture can lead to disc herniation.
Disc herniations are also known as slipped discs, or ruptured discs. They are actually quite common. Depending on their severity and their placement, you may not even feel them. If they are not irritating or pinching a nerve or the spinal cord you may never know you have a disc herniation.
Symptoms from disc herniations can range from neck or back pain, to pain, numbness, and/or tingling down the arm or leg. Depending on the severity of herniation, you may also begin experiencing weakness in the arm or leg, or worse. Do not ignore the symptoms, or the damage to the nerves may become permanent.
If a disc herniation is causing you pain, medication to reduce inflammation, swelling, and muscle spasm can give you relief. However, it is important to deal with the mechanics of the issue. I utilize a technique of physical therapy that has proven highly effective at reducing the effects of disc herniation. Please feel free to find out more about McKenzie Method Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment (MDT). It is a safe and effective treatment for neck pain, back pain, and disc herniations. I couple this with forms of massage, chiropractic treatment, as well as core strengthening. I have found this treatment to be very effective in the treatment of disc herniations. I would highly recommend you give it a try prior to turning to injections, pain management, or surgery for relief.