Herniated Disc / Slipped Disc
A herniated disc (or slipped disc) is often the consequence of overloading the instable anulus fibrosus (the outer ring and the strongest part of the disc). Due to overloading, the anulus fibrosus is partly or completely ripped. The central gelatinous core of the spinal cord then protrudes into the spinal canal and squeezes the spinal cord or nerve roots. When one of the spinal discs is completely detatched and the gelatinous substance has spread partially into the spinal canal, this part of the vertebral disc is referred to as “sequestra”.
Typical, acute symptoms arise from pressure on the nerve root (blue/red) or the spinal cord (brown-beige). Strong pain often spreads from the location of the slipped disc to the arms or the legs. Depends on the extent of the injury to the nerves, typical symptoms are numbness, sensitivity and even paralysis.
The most critical scenario is when the spinal cord is pressed together. This is dangerous because it may lead to a painless, severe constriction of the functionality of the body parts below the herniated disc, along with paralysis or even paraplegia.
A herniated disc can occur in every area of the spine. Two-thirds occur in the lower spine (lumbar spine) and around a third occurs in the cervical spine. Slipped discs in the thoracic spine are very rare.
Is an operation on a slipped disc necessary?
Learn more about the surgery on the cervical spine.