Herniated Discs Occur in the Body

Why Herniated Discs Occur In The Body 

Spinal Discs are Tough, Yet Resilient!

The discs between the vertebrae in your vertebral column are quite amazing. These discs are very simple structures composed of a tough fibrous outer shell, the annulus fibrosus,  and an inner shock-absorbing spongy material.

When the disc is healthy, all the forces that act upon it are distributed evenly on the vertebrae but if the disc is unhealthy, parts of the tough fibrous outer shell may collapse, allowing the spongy disc material called the nucleus pulposus to leak out. Once this spongy disc material leaks out of the space between the vertebrae, it’s called a herniated disc.

Pressure is put on spinal discs when you stand, sit and twist. If you lift a box, the weight in the box adds extra pressure on your discs. However, by using proper biomechanics in lifting, a box will not place that much added pressure on your discs.

On the other hand, if you hold the box away from your body and then sit or stand with it, the amount of pressure can double or triple. Once you add a twist to the situation, you may exceed the capability of your disc to handle the pressure. As a result, little tears appear in the disc.

When these actions are repeated, little tears become bigger tears until finally the structure of the disc cannot hold the spongy material inside. The disc herniates.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Once a disc herniates, it will let you know that there is a major problem! You will have back pain (disc pain), muscle spasm, sharp pain, pins and needles sensations or hot and cold sensations, muscle stiffness, and sometimes muscle weakness.

When the disc herniates, it will usually herniate to the back right or back left. If the disc herniates to the right side, you won’t be able to bend to the right and will lean away from the herniation, towards the left. The disc pain is worse when you lean towards the herniation. This is because the disc is compressing the spinal nerves on the right as well as crowding out the tendons, ligaments, arteries, and other connective tissue in the area.

Sometimes someone feels a pop in their back and then cannot stand up straight. They’re stuck in a bent over position. This could be because a disc has herniated towards the back. Whatever position someone is in is the position that takes off the most pressure on the herniated disc. The body won’t allow you to put additional pressure on it and does this by blocking your movement.

Research has shown that back pain can result from the nerves in the outer part of the disc becoming irritated. It has also shown that if you let these discs degenerate, the nerves can grow inside the disc – where they aren’t usually – and then cause back pain (disc pain).

The Trick is To Keep the Discs Healthy in the First Place

One of the key features to keeping these discs healthy throughout life is the simple habit of drinking enough water to keep them hydrated. The spongy nucleus pulposus and the tough outer part both are primarily composed of water, and dehydration can be a major trigger for inducing back pain.

The nucleus pulposus is also made of connective tissue, thus what you eat influences your disc directly as well as what you drink for a beverage. Connective tissue depends on your adequate protein intake as well as eating enough foods with plenty of vitamin C, silica, zinc, and even a little calcium. Not very many people understand that their diet (Link to nutrition page) can build strong discs in the spine – or weak ones. We can choose to eat a diet to support the spinal discs.

The disc gets its nutrition through the ends of the vertebrae. But if these ends, called endplates, are calcified, it makes it tougher to get the nutrition to the inside of the disc.

MRI Studies May Not Tell All

In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, led by the researcher Maureen Jensen, it was discovered that more than 30% of people without back pain have abnormalities in their vertebral discs as seen on imaging studies. This is an indication that MRI studies are extremely sensitive and may find “problems” that are not really problems.