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A spinal disc is a small cartilage pad located between the spinal bones. Layers of fibrous tissues contain the soft, jellylike center. Each disc acts as a connector, spacer and shock absorber for the spine. When they are healthy, spinal discs allow for normal turning and bending. Like a wet sponge, a healthy disc is flexible. Like a dried out sponge, an unhealthy disc is hard, stiff and can crack.
Spinal discs cannot "slip," as commonly thought, because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebra above and below it. However, spinal discs can be damaged through injury or improper lifting, or can deteriorate through lost circulation of joint fluids and nutrients. They can bulge, herniate, or rupture, causing painful pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots and interfering with their function. Through the restoration of proper position and natural motion, the effects of trauma and deterioration can be slowed, halted, or even reversed, and the healing process renewed. Many chiropractic patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependence on pain medication.