Herniated Discs in the Back

Herniated discs in the back may be caused by a combination of age related wear and tear, bad posture that strains the discs and ligaments of the back, and poor support from the spine from the back and abdominal muscles. Patients may feel back pain as a result of herniated discs when the walls of the disc puncture, opening a hole wide enough to project some of their material out into the spinal canal, coming in contact with the nerve roots of the spine of the spinal ligaments. The posterior spinal ligament is often affected by herniated discs to cause pain.

Patients may also experience pain as a result of herniated discs in the back as a result responses by the body to degenerative changes in the back. While intervertebral discs are degenerating as a result of water loss in their interior and a wearing out of their outer wall, osteophytes may begin to form where the surface of the disc meets the surface of the vertebral body (body of the vertebrae). These osteophytes have a role in stabilizing the spine, that has become destabilized by these degenerative changes to the back. These osteophytes that form to stabilize the spine may also cause back pain when they come in contact with pain sensitive tissue. The loss of disc height and weakening of the annulus can also affect the alignment of the facet joints.

Can bulging discs and herniated discs in the back heal on their own? The truth is that bulging discs and herniated discs can heal on their own, though the process may take months. Also patients may feel back pain as a result of secondary side effects associated with herniated discs. For example, patients may feel pain as a result of adhesions that remain in the spine, long after the torn annulus (outer membrane) in herniated discs have sealed themselves up. An adhesion in the spine is the left-over residue of fluid that had built up in an area of damage, that remained trapped in the area even after the original injury had healed itself. When a part of our body becomes injured or damaged, the body rushes a supply of blood of lymph fluid to that area in order to stiffen that area against movement that would further damage it, or to accelerate the healing process. Once that area of the body has sufficiently healed itself, this extra supply of fluid or blood is no longer needed, and the blood and fluid levels in that area drop back to their previous levels.

This same process applies to areas of the back that have become damaged due to herniated discs in the back or some other cause of pain. When nerves in our back sense an injury, they respond by telling our muscles to spasm and tell the body to send supplied of blood and fluid to the area to accelerate the healing process. When the injury has resolved itself, these elevated fluid levels in the area decrease to their previous levels. In some circumstances, the fluid dries out, but a sticky residue of it remains that is difficulty for the body to absorb or eliminate. This leftover residue of fluid may become lodged to structures such as the nerves and ligaments, causing pain and dysfunction.