GJLP / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GJLP / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Slipped disc. Coloured three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) scan of a slipped disc (yellow, lower centre) pressing against the spinal cord (blue). The spine bones (light blue) have been cut open by computer image manipulation. The discs between the spine bones act as small shock absorbers that cushion movement while keeping the spine flexible. Slipped disc occurs when the outer layer of one of the discs weakens or ruptures, allowing its pulpy contents to bulge out and press against the spinal cord or one of its nerve branches. Pain and numbness are typical symptoms. In rare cases damage to the spinal cord can cause partial paralysis.
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