A disc herniation could be a subtle cause for concern that leads to massive problems.
Herniated discs and a hernia are not the same ailments, Dr. Trevor Clark from Connect Chiropractic warns us. They do share a similar bulge, however.
That bulge, in the case of a disc herniation, says Clark, resides in the cartilage discs that are located in between your vertebrae. Discomfort occurs when those discs compress your nerves.
Everyone has 23 cartilage discs located in their spines that serve as the cushions between your vertebrae and allow for three-dimensional movement, according to the chiropractor.
While a disc herniation may be a common injury, many people still don't know what is causing their pain.
"The disc," says Clark, "is layered like an onion. You can think of it as like a hydraulic casing."
The disc contains a nucleus and a pressurized, jelly-like substance which acts like the oil in a hydraulic system. "The problem is when there is a break in that casing."
When the annulus of the disc is torn, the jelly-substance often can leak from the disc onto the surrounding nerves in your body.
These discs prove to be so important that without them, we could not move. A herniation of this critical portion of our body can lead to pain and weakness.
To assess whether or not a disc herniation might be the cause of your own ailments, Clark says they will check for reflex movement, as well as weaknesses in muscles, and orthopaedic exercises.
"This can really be debilitating for people," Clark shared. "We've had people come in dragging a leg behind them, we've had people that they have so much pain shooting into their arm or their head that they've been almost suicidal... Disc pain can really be extreme."
But how does someone get to that point of extreme suffering due to a common injury? Sometimes it can be attributed to a major accident or physical trauma, but Clark explains that often, it is the result of a slow accumulation of stressors over time, including even something as simple as sitting at your desk all day.
"We have lots of these joints and muscles in our spine, and if we don't get moving, it leads to these weaknesses. That pressurized component inside... starts to push out and bulge."
Gradual symptoms can accumulate to one large breaking point that an individual might not have seen coming. "It's the straw that broke the camel's back."
In treating disc herniations, once confirming they are not of a surgical nature, chiropractic care aims to give cartilage discs a chance to heal.
"Herniations come from the joint not moving properly, so we have some very gentle techniques to help get those joints moving again."