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What Is Discogenic Pain?

Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr.

The first type of pain we will discuss is Discogenic pain. This is pain that actually comes from the injured disc itself. However, as I said previously, this is not the major cause of pain in most cases. But let’s cover it anyway.

So, why would it not cause most of the pain with the majority of spinal disc conditions? I mean, if there’s a tear in the wall of a disc, wouldn’t that hurt?

Well, you have to realize that the function of the disc is to act as a cushion between the bones. It’s absorbing shock all day long so the bones don’t rub together, which would be very painful. Because of this, it makes sense that the discs of the spine don’t really have much nerve supply (which means that they really don’t cause much pain because there aren’t many nerves going to them which would let your brain know that you are experiencing pain).

This is good in a way, because if there were a lot of nerves going to the discs, you would feel pain all day long as they were absorbing shock. However, this is bad because when a disc becomes injured, most of the time you won’t know it because it won’t cause pain.

So Why Do I Feel Pain, Then?

If you look at the normal anatomy of a spinal disc, you can see that each disc is located directly in front of where the spinal cord and spinal nerves lie.

Photo Courtesy of 3D Virtual Consultation For Doctors

Normal Spinal Disc and an Explanation of Neurogenic Pain

When a disc is injured, it will either bulge or become shorter than usual. In both cases, what happens is that the disc will begin to apply pressure to either the spinal cord or the nerves, and this is usually what causes most of the pain.

The type of pain that is caused from pressure on the nervous system is called Neurogenic or Neuropathic pain. You can click here or click the Next button below to learn more about this type of pain.

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