Discs, short for Intervertebral discs, are the spongy cushions that separate the block-like bones (vertebrae) of the spine. In other words, they are positioned between the vertebrae in the spine. The outer elastic shell of a disc is made from cartilage, and in the center contains jelly-like contents. These discs can handle a good amount of pressure without damage. Discs serve the following purposes – allowing movement of the spine; creating space between the vertebrae: and acting as shock absorbers. The gelatinous middle allows the disc to compress and expand based on impact and movement.
Trauma (physical stress or impact) to the spine can cause the discs to become herniated, bulge, displaced (slipped disc), or possibly rupture. However, trauma or injury is not the only cause. Age impacts the discs too. The above conditions can put pressure on the nerves around the spine and cause pain.
The symptoms of a damaged disc can vary according to its location and severity. Many people who show evidence on scanning of damaged discs have no symptoms. However, general signs may include:
Common disc-related problems include
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