SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Slipped disc. Coloured magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the lower spine of a 35-year-old man suffering from a slipped, or herniated, disc. Intervertebral discs (light purple) separate and cushion the vertebrae (bones) of the spine (dark purple). However, when under pressure the discs can be forced through weakened areas of their casings and protrude into the spinal cord (green). In this case the disc (orange) between the lumbar spine and sacrum (L5/S1) has prolapsed (lower centre), putting pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord. This may result in tingling or numbness in the feet and legs. Treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy.
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