Disc herniation

Intervertebral Disc Herniation

Intervertebral disc herniation (disc herniation) is a collective term used to describe the displacement of disc material beyond where the intervertebral disc is normally meant to sit. The intervertebral disc is meant to sit in the intervertebral space. The intervertebral space is formed by the vertebral bones above and below (end plates) and the ring apophysis around the edges of the disc. The ring apophysis is where the outer layers of the disc (annulus) are joined to the vertebral bones above and below (traces around the edge of the disc). More than one herniation can occur simultaneously. A herniation may complicate other pre-existing abnormalities such as degenerative vertebrae changes and fractures. Herniations are subcategorised as either a protrusion or extrusion.

  • The term disc herniation does not imply a cause, symptoms, prognosis or even need for treatment. Disc herniations may or may not be painful.
  • Even the best MRIs often cannot display the internal architecture of the intervertebral disc (annulus). This means that fissures (tears) may not be visualised.
  • If a disc herniation takes up more that 25% of the full circumference of a disc its probably just a disc bulge. Herniations are localised and focal lesions.
  • A herniation can only occur is there is a fissure (tear) in the outer layer of the disc (annulus). Otherwise it’s probably just a bulge.
  • A herniation doesn’t have to go out, it can go up and down. An intervertebral disc herniation that goes up or down through the joining vertebral bone is called a Schmorl’s node.

Symptoms of disc herniation

Disc herniation may or may not be painful and produce symptoms. However there are pain receptors in the outer third of a disc. Since fissures (tears) in a disc must occur before herniation is possible. If the fissures make it all the way to the outer third of the disc (usually start from the middle or inside of the disc) they will cause pain and discomfort in the back or neck. Back and neck pain is common with disc herniation. This pain is typically made worse with postures that place more pressure on them such as looking down in the neck and sitting in the low back. If the herniation is large enough it may crash into the spinal cord or spinal nerves and this can cause neck or back pain that travels into the arms or legs. Your chiropractor or physiotherapist will be able to test for this in the clinic. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) we are a neck and back pain treatment centre of excellence specialising in disc herniation treatment.

Treatment of disc herniation

Some of us may have disc herniations and not even know about them. They can be symptomatic or asymptomatic. When symptomatic our chiropractors and physiotherapist concentrate on reducing neck and back pain, reducing inflammation and improving the movement of the spine. Our chiropractors and physiotherapists use safe, reliable and effective treatments that have been shown to work with good quality research. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) you are our priority, with longer treatments, one of one appointments and a passion to get you better quickly.

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