To understand the meaning of a herniated disc, it is first helpful to get a visual imagery of a spinal disc. The best analogy is that of a jelly doughnut with a firm outer covering and a jelly-like substance on the inside. The outer covering is actually cartilage that is designed to withstand the rigors of serving as the cushion between the vertebrae in our spine. The inner ‘jelly’ is a softer cartilage substance that provides the cushion effect. These discs are designed to act like shock absorbers or cushions between the vertebrae in our spine.
This short video illustrates and explains what a herniated disc and a bulging disc are:
There are times when the disc will swell or expand beyond its normal size. It can actually expand beyond the size of the vertebrae thereby affecting other components of the spine. Thankfully, bulging discs are typically not painful, at least not to the extent that it will cause debilitating conditions. In fact, bulging discs are considered ‘normal’ and common as we get older.
Unlike a bulging disc, which has merely flattened out, a herniated disc is one that has actually ‘cracked’. Some of the inner jelly-like cartilage actually leaks out through the crack in the outer layer cartilage. This is why they are commonly referred to as a ‘ruptured’ disc. The term ‘slipped disc’ is also frequently used to describe the herniation but, in reality, the disc has not ‘slipped’ out of place.
As you might guess, bulging discs are the more common of the two. While the bulging discs usually cause no pain, the herniated discs can be very painful and in need of treatment. They can lead to a debilitating condition if left untreated.
If you are experiencing moderate to severe back pain, be sure to schedule a visit with an experienced chiropractor or physician in Charleston or your local area. Spinal decompression therapy can be very helpful as a solution to this painful condition.