Hi, Dr. Ray Drury with the Upper Cervical Spine Center. What happens in the case of a disc bulge. This could be a disc bulge in the neck, it could be a disc bulge in the back. What happens is, is if you look at the inner side of the disc, right, here's a vertebra, and then between each vertebra there's this little cartilage pad that is referred to as the disc. Well, inside the disc we have these annular fibers which are hard cartilage type material, and then inside of that there's this little gel. It's kind of like a big jelly donut. That gel surface actually serves as the fulcrum. When you have the bones on top of each other, that gives the ability for those bones to move around that particular fulcrum.
Now, the way discs are designed, they're designed for you to last you about 125 years. Now, that's with everything being the way it should. Now, what could cause a disc to start to herniate, to start to bulge? Well, it's abnormal force. Now, what that means is abnormal stress in your spine. Your spine is designed to have a good curve forward, backwards, forward through the spine. Those curves give you some flex, right, some give, some shock absorbency.
We have this gravity pushing down on us constantly. At the top, we've got this big bowling ball that sets up here on top of this little, skinny neck, so that curve is very important. Throughout your whole spine, it gets heavier as you go down, which means it supports more and more weigh, which is why you'll see the bones get bigger and the discs get bigger to help support the extra weight. But those curves are very important to give us some give. Now, what happens is, if something alters the curve where we see the spine now instead of having that give, it start to do this. Well, now there's no give in the spine, so something has to give. What gives is the softest tissue in the area, which is the disc. It starts to get compressed.
Then that little gel nucleus starts to bulge or starts to squeeze out to one side. It's kind of like you have a jelly donut and you start to put abnormal stress on it, eventually that gel starts to go to the area of least resistance, or whichever way it's squeezed the most. Here is a little further down the road. You can see now the gel is represented by the red, and you see how it's starting to kind of edge out towards one side, which in turn creates the bulge. Now, what happens with this bulge? Well, over time it can start to affect the nerves that come down in the neck, that come down the arm, go down to the hand, can cause pain, numbness, tingling in the hands, can cause carpal tunnel, can cause pain in the shoulder, in the neck.
In the lower back it can cause pain down the leg, like sciatica. Pain down the front of the leg can cause pain, numbness, tingling in the toes and in the feet. What traditional medical care would do in this particular case is first they might go in and try to give you some medications to try to numb the pain. Maybe they'll do a shot, again to try to kill the nerve endings around it so you don't feel it, but that still leaves the disc bulge. If left alone, eventually it'll get worse to the point where they'll typically go in and maybe they'll shave off the outer edge of the disc so it doesn't hit on the nerve. Well, what that's going to do is it's actually going to weaken that space there and give you less annular fibers between the gel nucleus and the outer edge of the disc, which ultimately could lead to a rupture.
Because eventually if the disc gets to the point where it actually squeezes all the way through and comes out through the annular fibers, then the disc particles will be in the nerve canal or in the spinal canal, and the only way then to get that out is, obviously, surgically remove it. You want to start with the least invasive procedure. If you have a herniated disc in your neck or in your back, what we have to do is we have to take the stress off the disc. We have to try to bring the curve back in your spine so that we stop doing this and start to bring this back so that we get some give and we create balance in the spine so that the bones now start to realign themselves.
What happens is now this starts to wedge back to where it should so the disc can suck back inside the annular fibers and then no longer put the pressure on the nerves going down the arms, down the legs, creating the neck and the back pain. If you have a herniated disc, a bulging disc, pretty much the same thing, try to find an upper cervical doctor near you. Find out what's actually causing the disc, okay? Because I can guarantee you don't have a drug deficiency, so taking pain pills isn't going to fix it. And you don't have too many body parts, so cutting stuff out, especially the edges of that disc, are not going to fix it. But if we can get your body balanced, bring the curve back in your spine, take the stress off of the lower discs in your neck and your back, then the disc can level itself back out, the herniation or the bulge can suck back underneath that vertebra where it's supposed to be, and then the pain can go away and it can stay away.
You don't have to keep chasing it with medications trying to numb it. If you have a herniated disc, if you have a bulging disc or some pain down the arm, in the shoulders, in the back, find an upper cervical doctor near you. If you live in the Charlotte area, that includes South Carolina, Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Pineville, Matthews, Belmont, Huntersville, Cornelius, Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, we're the office for you. Give our office a call. We never charge for the consultation to see what your needs are. If it's something we can help you with, like a herniated or bulging disc, then we'll explain to you what we need to do to try to fix it. If it's not something we think we can help, then we'll find another specialist that we think can help you.
If you don't live in the Charlotte area, do yourself a favor. Go online, google "upper cervical chiropractor," find one near you. If you can't, give our office a call. We'll do our best to find the closest upper cervical doctor for you. I hope this gives you some information you can take and benefit from. I hope you have a great afternoon. We look forward to meeting you.