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The Differences In Various Lumber Disc Conditions…

Posted Dec 12 2009 9:21am 1 Comment
Lumbar MRI showing normal study and a herniated disc I often have patients that bring in their MRI report page with a very confused look on their face. Doctor- can you tell me what this word means?

The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae or spinal segments. Between each segment is a disc. This disc acts as a shock absorber so we can do things like: run, jump, twist, and lift. It also acts as a spacer between segments forming a hole between spinal vertebrae. L1 refers to Lumbar 1, L2- Lumbar2, and so on. There is an L1 to L5, then you hit the sacrum which is often referred to as S1.

Disc problems are often classified into one or more of the following conditions

  • Disc Degeneration- this is age related breakdown of the disc. This is often synonymous with disc desiccation and is accompanied with fibrosis and osteophyte formation of adjacent vertebrae.

  • Disc Desiccation- a disc that has fibrosed or hardened due to loss of water content. You see the disc is made up of an annulus (outer fibers which are slightly harder), then the inner nucleus which is more of a gel-like material.


  • An annular tear refers to any disruption in the outer disc fibers. Besides a tear you can also have a rupture of the annulus fibrosis. The annulus is the outer ring of the disc.

  • When someone has a herniated disc they have disc material that has broken out through the annulus. The nucleus pulposis is displaced beyond the margins of the vertebrae.

  • Next is a Disc Protrusion- It is basically another name for a herniated disc. There are two types; focal disc protrusions or broad based disc protrusions. Focal is when the disc protrusion is less than 25% of the disc circumference. A broad based protrusion is when the disk protrusion encompasses 25-50% of the disc circumference.


  • When the disc that has herniated out is more wide than it is long (meaning how far it is reaching outward) it is a Protruding Disc vs. the next definition.


  • Extruded Disc- this means the disc has come outward further than it is wide. Extruded discs can also be classified as sequestered or migrated discs.


  • Sequestered disc- Also called a migrated disc, is when that extrusion breaks free from its connection to the rest of the disc material and is now a free fragment or “fragmented disc.”








CT Spine and Disc Center is located in central Connecticut- Specializing in patients who suffer from sciatica, disc degeneration, bulging disc or herniated disc in the lumbar spine. Call us at 860-633-8756 to see if you are a candidate for non surgical spinal decompression
Comments (1)
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my mother just had back surgery the doctor put cement in the l1 and l 5 . the l1 was hollow . the doctor had never seen that in 30 years or surgery . she still has a of a lot of pain. the doctor said recovey time was 24 hours the surgey was friday now its sunday  still has a lot of pain would to do?   Anita
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