Herniated Discs & What They Have To Do With Jelly Donuts


You’re visiting your grandmother, and she just finished a homemade batch of your favorite jelly donuts. Mouth watering, you grab one, stuff the edge of it into your mouth, waiting in anticipation for that glorious moment when the jelly hits your tongue, combined with the sugary outer fried dough. While incredibly delicious to experience the jelly bursting out of the donut, we use this analogy frequently to describe what happens when you experience that painful condition known as a herniated disc, which is not so delicious.

Each disc is can be compared to a donut, because like a donut it has an outer ring (the dough) holding the gel (Jelly) in the center of the disc. Of course the outer ring called the annulus is much stronger than the dough of a donut, but the analogy holds up visually.

The discs in your spine act as cushions or shock absorbers and distribute forces around the disc and spine to give your spine strength and flexibility. Equally important, they act as spacers between the vertebra that allow the delicate nerves to leave your spinal cord to go into your arms and legs. When too much pressure is forced onto a disc, either from trauma like a fall, or a car accident, or from chronic wear and tear, the gel like center can push through the outer layer of annulus and push against the delicate nerve roots that exit your spine.

A disc herniation in the low back is the most common area for it to occur, followed by a disc herniation in the neck, and last in the thoracic spine because it is protected from movement by the rib cage. Pain can be the first thing patients report when describing herniated disc symptoms. And because these discs can protrude out, putting pressure on the spinal nerves, it can often lead to pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs. If a disc herniation causes a loss of bowel or bladder control then that is a surgical emergency.

So what causes a disc to herniate? At Integrated Physicians Medical Group, we commonly see patients with discs that are drying out, that is they have disc desiccation. Disc desiccation causes the disc to weaken and not be able to distribute forces properly, and as a result seemingly minor traumas can cause a herniated disc. It can be the result of a sudden injury too like a car accident or a fall, or gradual repetitive injuries from abnormally firing muscles, and then you have that moment where you reach down to pick up a pencil, and suddenly you can’t move! Yes, there are those times when you can precisely pinpoint the exact moment it occurred like when lifting a heavy item or bending down to pick up their toddler, or picking up a pencil—not exactly an Olympic event, but often patients tell us that they can think of no reason why it ever happened to them in the first place.

There are several categories of a herniated disc, and they can occur in your low back causing sciatica, they can occur in your neck causing shoulder arm or hand pain, weakness or tingling, or less commonly in the thoracic spine. The categories are disc protrusion, disc extrusion, or disc sequestration and disc rupture.

Disc herniation, Disc Bulges and Degenerative Disc Disease.

We believe that all but the most severe of disc herniations i.e. that cause loss of bowel or bladder control, or severe acute loss of muscle function should be treated conservatively with non surgical spinal decompression and other modalities before undergoing surgery.

If you’d like to know if you can avoid surgery for your herniated disc, and are looking for an alternative herniated disc treatment, and perhaps have tried chiropractic care, physical therapy, have had epidurals and nothing has worked or is lasting then please contact Integrated Physicians Medical Group for your no-cost MRI review. We can schedule you a brief phone consultation with a doctor, and let you know if you can get your herniated disc pain relieved without surgery.

Integrated Physicians Medical Group
Jeffrey James DC DACNB

Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist


2001 S. Barrington Avenue,
Suite 103,Los Angeles, CA 90025

Phone. 310-575-5575

Fax. 310-575-5570



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