Herniated Disc Pain

Herniated Disc Pain

Understanding disc herniations requires knowledge of spinal anatomy. Vertebrae are the individual bones of the spine. In general, there are 7 vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine), 12 in the mid-back (thoracic spine), 5 in the low back (lumbar spine). Ligaments in the shape of discs separate these vertebrae so they are called inter-vertebral discs (IVDs). Discs are made up of fibrocartilage in the pattern of concentric rings surrounding the nucleus pulposus. This nucleus is made up of a gelatinous material that has the consistency of jelly and acts as a shock absorber.

A disc herniation occurs when the fibers surrounding the nucleus are torn and the nucleus is pushed out. Because there are pain sensors in the fibers when they tear, a herniation causes back pain. Disc herniations are most common in the lumbar and cervical spines. There are also nerves that go between vertebral levels as they exit the spinal cord to innervate muscle and other tissues. Sometimes the nucleus gets pushed out of the disc in such a way that it encroaches on these nerves. This encroachment causes irritation to the nerve, which is called radiculopathy or radiculitis because it causes pain to radiate down the nerve. When disc herniations lead to radiculopathies, they often are associated with arm pain or leg pain. Other symptoms besides pain might be weakness, numbness, tingling, or pins and needles in any of the extremities.

Chiropractic manipulation is very successful in the management and treatment of disc herniations with and without radiculopathy. Chiropractic treatment restores movement, decreases inflammation, and reduces pain. Remember, disc herniations can respond very well to conservative chiropractic treatment with a fraction of the risk of surgery, so consider chiropractic before deciding on surgery.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this information is only for general knowledge; it is not to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment.