A herniated disc or disc protrusion is different from a bulging disc. A disc herniation is more severe and involves the tearing of annular fibers (the outer portion of the disc which is a fibrocartilage) which allows the nucleus (the center portion of the intervertebral disc made up mostly of waters and sugars), to begin to migrate or push through the torn fibers creating a focal protrusion or herniation of the disc.
As you can see from the picture above, disc herniations can be very painful due to the high potential for nerve root compression causing pain locally but may even radiate down the leg or arm. Most disc herniations occur posterior and lateral irritating either the left or right nerve root (lateral recess stenosis) causing leg or arm pain on that same side. Less common is a posterior herniation which pushes directly posterior into the spinal cord (spinal stenosis or central canal stenosis) and may generate pain in the limbs bilaterally.
On MRI disc herniations generally make the disc appear black. The reason for this is when the tear of the annular fibers occur, water content in the disc is lost. The MRI displays water on the film as whitish. When the water is absent it will show up dark as shown in the picture below.
Notice the discs above and below the herniated disc appear whiter in the middle. If your disc looks dark, like in the disc circled above, then your disc is in trouble. Its pump mechanism has failed and the ONLY procedure I know that corrects this problem is spinal decompression.
Call the office now at 407-522-5858 for your consultation and comprehensive examination. You must bring your MRI films or the appointment will need to be rescheduled. The films are very important to my evaluation to see if you are a good candidate for this highly successful procedure.