Our spine is made up of 26 moveable segments that are separated by 23 intervertebral discs. These discs are made up of water, collagen, and proteoglycans and absorb shock and stress on our spine from everyday movements. They also prevent each vertebrae from rubbing together. The anatomy of a disc is composed of two parts: the annulus fibrosus, which is the outer ring, and the nucleus pulposus, which is the jelly like inner substance. The annulus fibrosus is a sturdy structure that surrounds the nucleus pulposus and distributes pressure evenly. The nucleus pulposus is the jelly-like elastic substance in the center that acts as the shock absorber. The annulus fibrosus is made up primarily of collagen which gives it its sturdy structure, whereas the nucleus pulposus is made up primarily of water which gives it its jelly-like structure.
Stressors on the Disc
Over time, the intervertebral discs naturally become dehydrated and can begin to weaken causing herniation. But, there are some common stressors that can also lead to disc herniation. Some of which include:
Levels of Disc Injury
Disc degeneration is the weakening of the discs due to internal disc disruption that occurs from everyday movements and activities. It can also occur with age as the discs become dehydrated.
A disc bulge is when the outer fibers of the annulus fibrosus weaken and stretch. This allows the nucleus pulposus to bulge outward and is usually the first step to a more severe herniation.
Disc extrusion occurs when the outer fibers of the annulus fibrosus rupture. This allows the nucleus pulposus to migrate outward into the spinal canal.
A sequestered disc is a more severe form of disc extrusion. It occurs when the nucleus pulposus that migrated outward breaks off, becoming a free fragment in the spinal canal. Most of the time, this fragment will have to be surgically removed.
Here at West Family Chiropractic we can assist with the healing process of a disc injury through adjustments and spinal decompression. Spinal decompression is a great way to open up the spine and relieve pressure. This machine creates negative pressure, which in turn can cause a vacuum effect that sucks the nucleus pulposus back into place, decreasing the size of the herniation. This allows the disc to reshape itself and get the proper flow of nutrients for healthy healing. If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to call our office at (352) 332-1992.