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Posted on 11-07-2017

I often get this question at my Ann Arbor chiropractic office: “What is a herniated disc?” This is what I tell my patients.

A disc (technically, an intervertebral disc) is made of cartilaginous material that sits between vertebrae in the spine and acts as a cushion during everyday activity. ‘Cartilaginous material’ just means that something is made of cartilage or is like cartilage. Cartilage, in turn, is kind of like rubber. It’s somewhat stiff and acts to protect and cushion what is near it.

A disc is very important because it helps maintain the integrity of the hole that allows a band of nerves (a nerve root) which runs off of the spinal cord to travel unimpeded through an opening between adjacent spinal bones. That opening is called the ‘intervertebral foramen,’ and it runs from within the spinal column to outside the spinal column. Each disc is held in place between two adjacent spinal bones by ligaments and muscles, and each disc has a tough outer membrane and a harder inner membrane. During the years from childhood to adulthood, the outer membrane of the disc develops a tougher consistency.

Next, I explain that sometimes disc material leaks though cracks that may develop in the disc’s outer layer. When this leakage occurs, the disc is considered ‘herniated.’ A herniated disc may cause irritation to nearby nerves. There are a couple of types of herniated disc: ‘protruded’ and ‘prolapsed.’ A disc protrusion occurs when the disc bulges outward from the disc’s original round symmetry. A disc is called prolapsed when the disc bulges so much that some of the disc material separates from itself. A prolapsed disc usually causes more complications then a protruded disc does. In either case, a herniated disc can irritate the nearby nerves – resulting in pain, tingling, numbness, muscles weakness, muscle atrophy, and other symptoms. Very often, these symptoms radiate into the arms or legs. The symptoms can range from mild to severe in intensity.

Chiropractic has been shown to safely and effectively treat herniated discs. At my chiropractic office in Ann Arbor, I regularly treat people with herniated discs.”

If you have questions about this blog post, back pain, neck pain, or headaches, or would like to set up an appointment at our Ann Arbor chiropractic office, we can reached at tchiropractic@hotmail.com.

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