Slipped disc in the lumbar spine

Slipped disc in the lumbar spine

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Credit: JOHN T. ALESI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Slipped disc in the lumbar spine. Labelled axial (left) and sagittal (right) artworks and corresponding MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans through the lumbar (lower back) spine showing a slipped (herniated) disc (L4-L5 joint). The disc's pulpy interior (nucleus pulposus) is extruding through the damaged outer ring (annulus fibrosus) and pressing on the cauda equina (nerves below the lower end of the spinal cord). Also labelled are the ligaments and nerve roots. The discs of fibrocartilage between each vertebra form joints that allow the spine to bend and flex. Spinal disc herniation can cause pain and in severe cases may require surgery.

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