What is a ruptured disc?

We’ve all heard people say they have a ruptured disc in their spine, but what does that mean?

A disc is a rubbery cushion that is between the spinal vertebra:

disc

The disc is like a jelly donut.  The outer portion of the disc is thick and tougher.  The inside portion is soft material like jelly.

When a person has a back injury, such as from lifting a heavy object or twisting the back while lifting, the outer portion of the disc can rupture, and the “jelly” can be forced out of the disc.  That is a ruptured disc.  Then the ruptured disc and “jelly” can irritate the nerves coming out of the spine.

Sometimes a rupture disc can heal by itself over time.  But if a ruptured disc is accompanied by severe pain, pain down an arm or leg,  is accompanied by weakness or numbness, then surgical intervention may be required.

MRI of ruptured disc pushing on spine:

mri.jpeg

 

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