Bulging discs in the lumbar spine

Bulging discs in the lumbar spine

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Credit: JOHN T. ALESI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bulging discs in the lumbar spine. Labelled artwork and corresponding sagittal MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan through the lumbar (lower back) spine showing annular disc bulges at the L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1 joints. The disc bulges are potentially pressing on the cauda equina (nerves below the lower end of the spinal cord). The front of the spine is at left. Also labelled are examples of disc dessication and narrowing, the dura mater, and the posterior longitudinal ligament. 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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