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Mechanism and treatment of herniated disc (lumbar disc prolapse)

Posted Dec 18 2010 12:00am

Herniated disc can be the cause of intolerable back pain. Let's first clearly summarize the basic anatomy of the vertebral column. The vertebral column is made up of vertebrae (bones) that are separated by intervertebral discs. Here is a normal spine:

A normal intervertebral disc is shown below (seen from above).
The disc consists of a central soft area known as nucleus pulposus and a tough outer ring known as annulus fibrosus. Factors as trauma and degeneration may cause a tear in the annulus fibrosus which will lead to herniation of the nucleus pulposus outwards. This is simply the mechanism of a herniated (slipped) disc. 
The herniated disc will start to compress the nearby nerves causing back pain which is accompanied with a sharp lancinating leg pain (known as sciatica and femoralgia).

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