The discs are the shock-absorbing cushions between each vertebra of the spine. Together, the vertebrae and the discs provide a protective tunnel (the spinal canal) to house the spinal cord and spinal nerves. These nerves run down the center of the vertebrae and exit to various parts of the body.
Each disc has a strong outer ring of fibers, called the annulus fibrosus, and a soft, jelly-like center, called the nucleus pulposus. The annulus is the strongest area of the disc and the ligament that connects each vertebra together. The nucleus, or center of the disc, is hydrated and serves as the main shock absorber. Discs in the spine increase in size from the neck to the low back as there are increasing needs for shock absorption due to weight and gravity.
Herniated discs are typically caused by overuse injuries or trauma to the spine; however, disc conditions can also develop as a result of the normal aging process.
Also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, a herniated disc develops when one of the cushion-like pads between the vertebrae moves out of position and presses on adjacent nerves.
Symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on the location of the herniation and the types of soft tissue that become involved. A herniated disc most often occurs in the cervical and lumbar regions. It is possible to have a herniated disc without any pain or noticeable symptoms, depending on its location and severity of the injury.
The symptoms may include:
Cervical Herniated Disc:
- Dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades. Pain may be instensified during movement
- Numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm
- Pain radiating (spreading) down into the arm, hand or fingers
Lumbar herniated disc:
- Low back pain
- Sciatica pain
- Dull or sharp pain in the leg
- Leg weakness or loss of leg function
Possible related devices:
(This mention is purely informative and according to the manufacturer's instructions. It should always be subjected to a proper diagnosis and medical decision.)