SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Slipped disc. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of a sagittal (side) section through the spine of a 45 year old man showing a slipped disc (upper centre). The front of the body is at left and the spinal cord (grey) can also be seen with the brain at top. Intervertebral discs are rubbery cartilaginous pads that cushion the vertebrae (block-like bones of the spine) and give the neck and back flexibility. They can become prolapsed due to an injury or mechanical stress. Here, the slipped (prolapsed) disc between the bones of the cervical spine (neck bones C5 and C6) is compressing the spinal cord, causing swelling. This can cause pain and numbness in the region below the prolapse. Treatment is with bed rest.
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