Herniated Discs: How to Care for the Jelly Donuts in Your Spine.
By Pete Schultz, PT, OCS

We all have these little jelly donuts between the bones of our spine. Okay, they're discs, but they're actually built much like a jelly donut.

These discs are made of cartilage on the ouside and a jelly-like substance on the inside. The disc's job is to absorb shock to the spine.

Sometimes, due to an abnormal force, or a long term stress, part of the cartilage gets torn and the jelly starts to leak out.


This causes a herniation of the disc

The jelly pushes out because there's less support on one side of the disc. Faulty posture or too much pressure on one side also pushes the jelly to the weaker side. This looks much like what happens with a bubbled tire.

This bubble causes you pain because it compresses the nerve around the injured disc.


In extreme cases...

The disc tears completely causing the jelly to rush out. This leads to the need for surgery, known as a discectomy. This procedure removes the leaked jelly and eases the irratation to the nerve. This is a procedure you'd hope to avoid.


How to avoid a herniated disc

We always talk about the importance of training using core exercises. This situation is no exception. Any deep core exercises and stretching helps improve your posture while taking stress off your spine. If you still find yourself with a herniated disc you'll need the right care to get you out of pain.


How we care for a herniated disc

Our first goal is to get you out of pain. Once we get you comfortable we begin strengthening the muscles around the spine. This takes the stress off the nerve.

It's important to remember once the wall of the disc is compromised it can't be repaired only supported. So you'll need to be stronger to compensate for it. This way you can keep the jelly where it belongs.


Summary:

  • The discs that absorb a shock to your spine are like jelly donuts, cartilage on the outside, jelly on the inside.
  • A tear in a disc happens much like a blown tire. An abnormal force or long term stress cause the disc to bubble
  • The tear cannot be healed, but the muscles around it can be strengthened to relieve the pain and pressure.

If you have further questions please call us at the office: 212.317.8303