A disc tear is the most common disc injury. It is a microtear in the tough, outer cartilage material of the disc allowing fluid to start to leak out and wear the disc thin. A bulging disc is when the soft jelly-like material in the middle of the disc pushes to one side, forward or backward and swelling occurs causing pressure and pain. A herniated disc is when the soft jelly-like center of the disc ruptures through the tough, outer fibers and extends to the outer edge or beyond normal disc boundaries. A prolapsed disc is when a piece of disc material breaks off and floats around freely. Finally, a dessicated disc is when the disc loses its fluids and begins to get dry and degenerated to look rough, worn-down or worn-out. This occurs as the bones become arthritic and begin to fuse together.
The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to help restore better motion and position to the spinal joints. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps decrease inflammation so the slow process of healing the surrounding soft tissues can begin. While results cannot be guaranteed, many patients have been able to avoid surgery or a dependency on pain pills by choosing conservative chiropractic care.