Ruptured Discs

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Ruptured Discs

Topic Overview

A ruptured disc occurs when the jelly-like material (nucleus) inside the disc breaks through the outer shell (capsule or annulus) of the spinal disc.

  • Since the nucleus is no longer stretching the fibres that form the capsule, there may be a significant reduction in back pain.
  • Fragments of a ruptured disc may break off and become lodged in the spinal canal.
  • Symptoms of sciatica may result:
    • If the ruptured nucleus compresses a nerve root.
    • When disc fragments compress and irritate nerve roots.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised September 29, 2010

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