In between each vertebrae sits a disc, filled with a gel-like substance that acts as a shock absorber. If the outer layer (the annulus) tears, the gel can leak out, putting pressure on nearby nerves and causing pain. This is common as the body ages, because the discs lose some water content, becoming less flexible and more prone to tearing.
A herniated disc (also called a slipped disc or ruptured disc) can cause pain, numbness or weakness, radiating down into the arms and legs. Fortunately, a herniated disc can almost always be treated non-operatively, with special exercises and medications. Using these types of conservative treatments, the pain usually resolves within two months. Surgery is an option if conservative treatments are unsuccessful or if there’s difficulty walking and with basic functions.
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