"As we age, the outer lining of the disc can develop cracks and become susceptible to contents of the disc leaking," said Boden.
Despite her previous neck injury, Grey wasn't at increased risk for a herniated disc. They can happen very suddenly.
"Hers happened out of the clear blue sky," said Bray. "Her neck was totally fine and held up well."
"People deal with disc herniations every day and we don't operate on them," said Dr. Costas Hadjipanayis, chief of neurosurgery service at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta. "We actually take care of most of them non-operatively."
"The initial treatment is rest, ice and/or heat -- whichever feels better for the patient," said Dr. Stuart Kahn, director of spine and pain rehabilitation at The Spine Institute of NY at Beth Israel Medical Center.
Treatments also include pain medications, muscle relaxants and physical therapy. If limb weakness occurs, doctors will try steroids. If the pain, weakness or numbness gets worse or persists, surgery may be an option.
"But once a disc is ruptured, the part that oozes out can shrivel and shrink, but the disc will never heal," said Kahn.