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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Ruptured Disk
      Category : Health Centers > Bones, Joints, and Muscles

Ruptured Disk

Alternate Names : Slipped Disk, Herniated Disk

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

A ruptured disk in the back occurs when all or part of a vertebral disk is forced through the bones of the spinal column.

What is going on in the body?

The vertebrae of the spinal column are separated by vertebral disks that act like shock absorbers. A disk is made up of two parts. The outer ring or annulus is a tough, fibrous material. The inner part or nucleus is a soft, jelly-like material. A ruptured disk occurs when the outer ring tears or breaks, allowing the jelly-like material to poke through the crack. The disk may press on nerves, causing pain and loss of function.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

There are many causes of a ruptured disk. Repeated heavy lifting is the most common cause, especially when improper lifting techniques are used. Many people who have a ruptured disk are involved in manual labor jobs. Other risk factors for disk rupture include:

  • activities, such as driving a car, that pass vibrations along the spine
  • lack of physical activity
  • obesity
  • old age
  • smoking


    Next section


    Ruptured Disk: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Vincent J. Toups, MD
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 09/05/01

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