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Disc Herniation(s):  Causes and Resolution

Disc Anatomy

The intervertebral disc is located between the vertebra.  Each disc has a gel-type center called the nucleus pulposus that is surrounded by a dense network of fibers are similar to ligaments.  The outer fibers are flexible, yet strong.  Their  function is to restrict movement of the gel.  The outer network is termed the annulus fibrosis.  It is in the region of these annular fibers where all disc injuries begin. 

cervical disc herniation.jpg

Disc Function 

The functions of the disc are to facilitate spinal movement, absorb the shock of impact as well as  separating the vertebra and binding the adjacent vertebra.  

Mechanism of injury

  A disc injury can be associated with trauma.   However, more commonly, there is a gradual tearing of the annular fibers and subsequent migration of the nucleus into the torn area.  A greater degree of migration results in increasing pressure.   This can be extremely painful and accompanied by arm or leg symptoms.   Disc lesions range from mild to severe.  Disc lesions can be referred to as bulging, protrusions, herniation, or prolapse.  The MRI image below clearly shows disc material extending behind the back of the vertebra.  The "bubble" is a herniation.   Click here for treatment options