MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Disc prolapse. Coloured nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) image showing a disc prolapse (bottom centre), also known as slipped disc. This is a common painful disorder of the spine in which an intervertebral disc ruptures and part of its pulpy core protrudes pressing against the spinal cord. Although 95% of disc prolapses occur in the lower back, as in this case, they may affect any region of the spine. They may be caused by a sudden strenuous action or may develop gradually as a result of degeneration of discs with age. Symptoms are in most cases relieved by bed rest; if the pain is persistent a surgical operation is performed in order to decompress the spine.
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