Torn disc in the lumbar spine

Torn disc in the lumbar spine

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Credit: JOHN T. ALESI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Torn disc in the lumbar spine. Labelled axial artwork and corresponding discograms (contrast X-rays) of the lumbar (lower back) spine showing a torn disc on the L5 vertebra. Leakage of the contrast dye (green) shows the disc has been damaged (circumferential tears, red). Also labelled are the cauda equina (nerves below the lower end of the spinal cord), the disc's pulpy centre and tough outer ring, and nerve roots. Spinal muscles (red) surround the spine, with the rear of the spine at bottom. The discs of fibrocartilage between each vertebra form joints that allow the spine to bend and flex. Spinal disc injuries can cause pain and in severe cases may require surgery.

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