A herniated disc occurs when one of the discs that cushion your vertebrae bulges out of its normal alignment
Herniated or bulging discs are known to cause pain and/or irritation, as they result in back bones not aligning properly.
The spinal discs are sometimes referred to as the shock absorbers of our spine.
They literally cushion the stress placed on our spine by providing a gap between the vertebrae. The disc consists of two parts. The center, referred to as the nucleus pulposis is comprised of a gelatinous matrix similar to jelly. The matrix is made of mostly water. The outer covering that keeps the nucleus intact is called the annulus fibrosis which is made of criss-crossing fibers. The disc itself consists of about 88% water, but as we age, the disc begins to lose water which flattens or thins the disc. This is known as disc degeneration.
Disc degeneration also occurs more rapidly after disc injury such as an annular tear. As the disc thins, more stress is placed on the joints behind the disc. More severely, the narrowing actually reduces the size of the opening where the exiting nerve roots extend from the spinal canal. The reduction in the size of the “nerve hole” creates irritation and causes an inflammatory process to ensue. The result is a myriad of effects that include inflammation of the nerve, inflammation of the surrounding tissue, muscle spasm and pain.