What Is a Herniated Disc?

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You may have been told you have been told you have a herniated disc. You may just suspect that you do. Either way, you probably want more information on just what a herniated disc is.

You’ve most likely heard that you have discs that make up your spine. Actually they are only a cushioning structure and there is much more to it. In the center of your spine is a spinal cord that contains the main traffic way of nerves to the brain.

The vertebrae are actually the circlets of bone that go around this spinal cord and protect it. They form the spinal column. They give you support for the main trunk of your body. The bones of the spine are very important. A herniated disc can compromise their functioning.

Of course, to support your frame, the vertebrae must be strong. They are bony and hard. If they were not cushioned, they would grind and crunch together. They wouldn’t last long. So, it is fortunate that there are pads in between the vertebrae. These are called discs. A herniated disc can occur in these areas.

The discs that separate the bony vertebrae are like rubber grommets. However, they have a center that is filled with a jelly-like material. This material helps the discs absorb the traumas that would be caused to the spinal column without them. It is when this gooey material oozes out that a herniated disc occurs.

When the jelly inside the discs is pushed towards the spinal cord, it causes problems. It can press on nerves there. A herniated disc such as this will often cause a condition called sciatica, when it is located in the lower back. In this condition, the nerve that runs from the back down the leg will become inflamed and great pain can be the result.

Actually, herniated discs can occur in any of the different parts of the spinal column. They are most often associated with the lower back. Occasionally, people will have a herniated disc in their upper back. It usually doesn’t happen, but there are instances when the middle back is involved.

A herniated disc goes by many names in the medical profession. Some call it a bulging disc. This doesn’t really tell the story. All the discs in your back should bulge slightly as they help you to bend and stretch. A herniated disc bulges excessively.

Some doctors call a herniated disc a ruptured disc. The fluid core in some of the discs does rupture, but not always. One of the most common names for the condition is “slipped disc.”

Most doctors now will usually call herniated disc “degenerative disc disease.” This makes people sit up and take notice. It calls to their attention that herniated disc is a medical disorder.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you call it. The main thing is that you know what it is. You could be misdiagnosing yourself if you don’t have all the facts a doctor can provide. If you have any doubts, contact your doctor.

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