Bulging and Herniated Discs:

Discs are located between each vertebra and provide flexibility and shock absorption for the spine.  The thick, fibrous outer disc wall, known as the annulus fibrosus, surrounds a jelly-like center, called the nucleus pulposus.  Discs undergo tremendous amounts of stress, which can sometimes lead to a bulging disc, a weakening of the disc wall that causes the disc to bulge out and press painfully on surrounding nerves.  A herniated disc occurs when the pressure within a disc becomes too great, tearing through the disc wall (annulus fibrosus), allowing a portion of the nucleus pulposus to protrude.  The escaped nucleus pulposus may then impinge painfully on nerve roots, leading also to numbness, tingling, and/or muscle weakness associated with the condition of sciatic pain.  The illustration below gives a bird’s eye view of what exactly is going on when a disc bulges or herniates.

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The Jelly Donut Analogy

Comparing the discs in your back to jelly donuts gives you a good idea of what happens when a disc herniates.  Picture in your mind a jelly donut, plump with strawberry filling.  Have you ever set a box of donuts on your office chair, only to absentmindedly plop down on them a few moments later? What happens? The jelly oozes out under the pressure.  When a disc ruptures of herniates, the same thing happens, except, unlike the jelly donut, a herniated disc can be repaired!  That’s where Spinal Decompression comes in.