What is it about herniated discs, and you know, everybody says, “Oh yeah, herniated disc, that’s awful.” Neck, mid back, lower back, it doesn’t really matter, it’s all the same. So what is a herniated disc? Well, it really helps to get a general idea of, of what this is.
It’s made up in the same way that a jelly donut’s set up. It’s got a firm outer layer, which is actually a bunch of circles, like onion rings. And then in the center, there’s a soft goo. What happens is, the same thing that would happen if you stepped on a jelly donut–bulges. It pokes out around the edges, you push a little bit more, and the goo comes out the hole where it was injected to begin with, and that usually happens posteriorly. You’ll end up with an increase of pressure within the disc, or breakdown of those annular fibers, and then, bam! Out comes this goo, which really, more times than not, causes no symptoms at all. No symptoms at all, and that truly is the joke about this. One third of all adults with this condition are asymptomatic, no complaints, not a worry or inkling that there’s anything wrong.
They can be walking around the mall, have a herniated disc, either in the, in their lower back, or in their neck, and they have no idea whatsoever. However, God help them if they pull a muscle, they sleep the wrong way, or if something happens to some of the associated structures. Now all of a sudden, some well-meaning practitioner does an MRI. What do they find? They find this herniated disc and they go, “Oh, lo and behold, a herniated disc.” You have pain in your neck, you have a herniated disc, therefore, that herniation must be causing your pain.
And pretty soon they end up with a zipper in the front or back of their neck, pieces of bone are shoved in, or pieces of steel are inserted to fix a herniated disc that was there all along and caused no symptoms. And what was bothering them to begin with could have been a bursitis, or a facet arthritis. It could have been a muscle pull, and there are so many things that can mimic a herniated disc, or can result in back ache. Looking at an MRI and concluding, “Oh, this must have caused that,” is the biggest mistake in some peoples’ lives. And then it’s a life changing event.