The spinal column comprises the vertebrae, discs, and spinal cord. Each set of two adjacent vertebrae in the spine have a cushiony disc between them. The disc protects the vertebrae from rubbing against each other when the person bends their torso backward, forward, or to the sides, providing smooth flexibility in your back.
One of the most common ways in which your spine can be damaged is when there is a problem with a spinal disc, particularly bulging discs or herniated disks.
Let’s talk about what a bulging disc and a herniated disc are, how they can happen, and what you can do if either type of injury is causing pain.
What Is a Spinal Disc?
The discs keep the spine cushioned well. They also absorb the shock your spine feels when you engage in various activities – everything from walking to running to sitting down.
These discs are made of tough cartilage (the outer layer) called annulus fibrosus, and soft cartilage in the center (inner layer) called nucleus pulposus. A spinal disc is often compared to a jelly doughnut in its structure.
What Is a Bulging Disc?
With age and overuse, these discs are prone to get damaged or degraded. This damage occurs when the discs become dehydrated and the cartilage stiffens. When this happens, the disc can flatten and bulge out of one or all sides between its vertebrae.
If you have a bulging disc, you may not feel the symptoms immediately, if ever. You may start to feel radiating pain in the arms or legs. When the bulging disc is more severe, it can affect your ability to walk normally.
This condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications for less severe cases, while steroid injections can be used for more severe cases. If the condition is causing debilitating pain or any level of disability, surgery can be performed to remove the damaged part of the disc. This is now a much less invasive surgery than in years past.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
This condition occurs when the outer layer of cartilage cracks, and the crack allows the soft inner cartilage of the disc to protrude or leak. When this material leaks out, it can put constant pressure on the spinal cord – thereby causing pain in the part of the body whose nerves are controlled by that part of the spinal cord.
Spine Surgeons in West Jersey
If you feel that you may have either of these conditions, or if you have chronic back pain, it is pertinent for you to see a medical professional for the best care possible. Medical treatment by skilled orthopedic surgeons can also help to prevent the injury from becoming worse in the future.
Here at Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey, we aim to provide our patients with optimum relief from their aches and pains. We offer orthopedic care, sports medicine, and patient education.
You can contact us today by calling (973) 989-0888 or request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you feel like yourself again!