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Herniated Disc

The spinal column is formed y a series of interconnected bones, called vertebrae. Between the vertebrae are zones called intervertebral discs. Their function is to fix one vertebra to the next and to cushion movements between them. These small spongy discs are formed by an external hard wrapping (annulus fibrosus) and a soft gelatinous core (nucleus pulposus). As a person ages, the core of the disc can begin to dry out and to lose its effectiveness as a cushion. This condition can cause the disc to slip or rupture and the core forced though the weakened part of the disc, generating what is called a herniated disc.

Herniated discs can happen at any level of the spinal column but they are more frequent at the lumbar level (lower back).

Symptoms

A herniated disc in the lumbar spine can cause these symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Muscular stiffness or spasms in the back
  • Pain which moves down the leg, also known as radiative pain
  • Tingling and weakness in the leg, foot or feet

Prevention

To keep your back strong:

  • Protect your back when lifting heavy objects: lift with your legs, not your back. Don't bend forward at the waist when you lift. Bend your knees, and squat.
  • Use good posture. When you stand or walk, keep your shoulders back and down, your chin back, and your belly in. This will help support your lower back.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. This may reduce the load on your lower back.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of a disc injury.

Gene or region studied

  • CILP
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