prolapsed intervertebral disc


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prolapsed intervertebral disc

The backward expression of the pulpy centre (NUCLEUS PULPOSUS) of an intervertebral disc as a result of degenerative changes in the outer fibrous portion of the disc (the annulus fibrosus). Disc pulp is likely to press on adjacent spinal nerve roots causing severe pain and sometimes weakness in leg muscles. Also known as ‘slipped disc’.

intervertebral discs

the soft pads between the bodies of the vertebrae which make up the spinal column. Each disc has an inner spongy gelatinous substance (nucleus pulposus) surrounded by a protective ring of fibrocartilage (annulus fibrosus). The discs contribute to flexibility of the spine and act as shock absorbers. prolapsed intervertebral disc syn slipped disc protrusion of the nucleus pulposus through its fibrous covering into the spinal canal, due to degenerative changes, heavy lifting or injury in sport. Can press on the spinal cord or on the nerve roots, leading to pain, numbness, paraesthesia or even paralysis. Most common in the lumbar region, causing sciatica if the roots of the sciatic nerve are compressed. Diagnosis is clinical with MRI scanning to confirm. Treatment is initially rest with appropriate analgesia, then a programme of core muscle strengthening to prevent recurrence. Persistent neurological symptoms and signs require investigation and, rarely, surgical treatment with minimally invasive microdiscectomy. In sport the commonest disc injuries are in the lumbar and cervical regions, the latter typically in rugby (scrum collapse or direct injury in a tackle), in judo or in a fall from a height as in trampolining or gymnastics. These injuries highlight the need for adequately trained and experienced medical back-up.