Dr. Karl Jawhari, D.C., founder of medically-integrated clinic dedicated to chronic back pain, Dallas Spine and Disc Center, has spent his career pursuing treatments for bulging and herniated spinal discs. Often described as being similar to a jelly donut – consisting of a firm outer layer of tough cartilage surrounding a softer layer composed of cartilage fibers suspended in a mucoprotein gel – the purpose of intervertebral discs is to cushion and act as a shock absorber between adjacent vertebrae, as well as to serve as connecting ligaments holding spinal vertebrae together. While tough enough to typically absorb a lifetime of shock and impact, the effects of poor posture, spinal injury, repetitive strain and the normal wear and tear of aging can lead to a bulging disc or a herniated disc and associated pain.
“Intervertebral discs are an amazing bit of engineering,” says Dr. Karl Jawhari. “The twenty-three discs help keep the spine in alignment and prevent the vertebra from contacting each other, while also staying soft and pliable. But it is not a flawless system, and bulging discs or herniated discs may occur.”
A bulging disc is medically described as “contained,” meaning there is no tear or rupture is present within the outer layer of the disc, although it is pushing outward and into the spinal canal. The degree of pain depends on whether the disc impinges a nerve root. It may not be painful at all, or it may produce mild symptoms ranging from numbness, tingling and weakness up to severe pain. Coughing, sneezing, sitting, driving and bending forward can make the pain worse due to additional pressure put on the nerve by these various activities.
Herniated discs are the second condition that commonly account for chronic back pains and are described as “non-contained,” meaning a tear or rupture is present. They often begin as a bulging disc, until long-term extended pressure on the outer wall leads to a herniation. The pain from a herniated disc is frequently much greater than with a bulging disc, as it is caused by both compression of the nerve, in combination with painful inflammation of the nerve root caused by the gel-like nucleus pulposus leaking into the spinal canal.
Dr. Karl Jawhari, D.C., is the founder of Dallas Spine and Disc, an innovative healthcare center with a focus on back pain. He is a nationally recognized speaker for the Health Awareness Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes health and wellness in local companies by educating employees and creating a healthier environment through workshops. Dr. Jawhari has consulted with over 120 doctors in the U.S. on the application of non-surgical healing techniques such as New Life Laser, lumbar decompression, litecure laser and cervical decompression. He and his talented staff have treated hundreds of patients who previously had little expectation of relief from chronic pain.