What is a slipped disc?

The joints at the bottom of your spine or your neck are most often affected. In between the bony vertebrae are discs, which are mainly made of fibrocartilage. There is an inner part called the nucleus pulposus (which is more jelly like in consistency) and an outer part called the annulus fibrosus, which is the strong fibrocartilage to protect the inner nucleus pulposus. The purpose of the disc is to space the vertebrae apart whilst attaching them together. If there is some weakness in the outer annulus fibrosus, some of the gelatinous nucleus pulposus can protrude. This causes a bulging on the outside of the disc, which can then press on nerves exiting the spinal cord at that level. There are different degrees of severity ranging from a small protrusion to a severe prolapse when the nucleus pulposus pushes all through the annulus fibrosus. Often the disc will heal naturally through shrinkage and breakdown of the extruded disc material. However, in severe cases surgery may be required to fuse the joints at the base of the spine.