What are Disc Herniations?

Round cushions protect the bones that form the spine along the back with a tough, outer layer called annulus. These discs are located between each of the vertebra in the spinal column, acting as “shock absorbers” for the spinal bones.

Unfortunately, those discs can become herniated, which may indicate the early stages of degeneration. The spinal canal has limited space, which is inadequate for the spinal nerve and the displaced herniated disc fragment. As a result, a painful compression and “pinching” of the nerve can occur. Herniated discs are more common in the lower back (lumbar spine), but also occur in the neck (cervical spine).

Bulging disc - With age, the intervertebral disc may lose fluid and become dried out. As this happens, the spongy disc becomes compressed, which may lead to the breakdown of the tough outer ring. This allows the nucleus, or the inside of the ring, to bulge out, being aptly named bulging disc.

Ruptured or herniated disc - As the disc continues to break down, or with continued stress on the spine, the inner nucleus pulposus may actually rupture out from the annulus. This is a ruptured — or herniated — disc. The fragments of disc material can then press on the nerve roots located just behind the disc space. This can cause pain, weakness, numbness, or changes in sensation.

What is Lumbar Disc Disease?

Lumbar disc disease is caused by a change in the structure of the normal disc. Most of the time, disc disease happens as a result of aging and the normal break down that occurs within the disc. Sometimes, severe injury can cause a normal disc to herniate. Injury may also cause an already herniated disc to worsen.

What Causes Disc Herniations?

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