8833 Perimeter Park Blvd.
Suite 904
Jacksonville, FL 32216
904-928-3303
904-928-3343 fax

Herniated Disc

Spinal discs are located between the vertebrae (bones) in the spine.  Their job is to cushion the shock of movement, either normal such as walking, or abnormal such as whiplash.  They work much like the shock absorbers do in your car, and if you have ridden in a car with bad shock absorbers it is apparent the difference they make.   They protect the spinal cord.  A very important job indeed.

The disc has an outer surface of tough, fibrous material and the inside is filled with a jelly-like material, much like a jelly-filled donut but tougher.   When the tough outer surface gets abnormal wear and tear it thins and eventually a small hole or tear in the surface will appear and some of the jelly-like filling will squeeze out.  This can also happen quickly, even to a healthy disc if there is a severe injury to the disc.

When this happens the disc has herniated or ruptured.  Sometimes the term slipped disc is used but this is not true as there is no such thing as a slipped disc; it is herniated or ruptured.  Like Humpty Dumpty, the disc cannot be put back together.  This is a good reason to take care of our discs, and there are ways to do that, as I will discuss latter.

A herniated disc cannot be seen on an x-ray but it can be seen clearly on an MRI.  And the MRI will tell us a lot about the health of all our discs.  A healthy disc will show up white in color which means that it is full of water and healthy proteoglycan* which helps internally pressurize the disc by drawing water via osmosis into the nucleus pulposus.  An unhealthy disc will show up black in color showing a lack of water and lack of healthy proteoglycan.

The two most important questions at this point are:  What should I do about this now and what can I do to keep this from happening again?

You should always see your physician as soon as you have any problem like this.  If the problem is very severe it may lead you to surgery.  It is important to know that if there is surgery to correct the problem, then only the symptom has been addressed, and many times, within 5 years, another herniation will occur at the next disc.

The vast majority of times surgery is not necessary or recommended.  The usual course is anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy.  At this point exercise-based physical therapy is not the best choice as it can increase the pain and does not address the underlying cause.  This is where the ReCAPS System™ comes in.  The pain can be relieved by releasing the pressure on the disc so that the impingement is relieved on the nerve roots or spinal cord that is causing the pain.   Then the entire problem is addressed to keep the probability of another disc herniation low or eliminated.

The why is addressed with ReCAPS™.   From looking at the normal wear and tear of sitting verses the abnormal wear and tear of sitting incorrectly (see ergonomics), to evaluating for a structural imbalance that can be corrected.

Even being hydrated is very important.  The body runs very efficiently and in the now.  If you are not hydrated enough the body will first reduce the water to the spine and brain.  This is because it’s thinking (or not thinking from lack of water) that this is just a short-term shortage and that the water is needed more for basic functioning.

Even if you are someone who previously had surgery you need the ReCAPS System™, sometimes because of a new disc herniation, or because of continued pain after surgery and to keep the same thing from happening again.

Wherever you are in this cycle, the ReCAPS System™ can help you change course, to one without severe back pain.

* Proteoglycan is a hydrophilic, negatively charged, branched chain molecule composed of a protein attached to an oligosaccharide.  Proteoglycans are also known as glycosaminoglycans and include such structures as chondroitin and collagen.  The negative charge on the branched chains and the hydrophilic nature of the proteoglycan  internally pressurize the disc by drawing water via osmosis into the nucleus pulposus. 

Other articles on contributing factors:

8833 Perimeter Park Blvd., Suite 904, Jacksonville, FL 32216 | 904-928-3303 | 904-928-3343 fax | solutions@stillinpain.info

The information presented here is informative only and is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.  There has been no intent to provide medical advice, diagnose illness or in any way practice medicine.  Always consult your physician on matters of your health.  License MM33984