Slipped discs in the lumbar spine

Slipped discs in the lumbar spine

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Credit: JOHN T. ALESI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Slipped discs in the lumbar spine. Labelled artworks and corresponding MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans through the lumbar (lower back) spine showing a disc bulge (L4-L5 joint, sagittal views at left only) and a slipped (herniated) disc (L5-S1 joint). The axial views (right) show the disc's pulpy interior (nucleus pulposus) protruding through the damaged outer ring (annulus fibrosus) and pressing on the cauda equina (nerves below the lower end of the spinal cord) and spinal nerve roots. The fibrocartilage discs between each vertebra form spinal joints that bend and flex. Spinal disc herniation can cause pain and in severe cases may require surgery.

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