Intervertebral discs are soft, shock-absorbing tissues located between each vertebra in the spine. These discs are composed of a thick, fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosus) and a soft, gel-like core (nucleus pulposus).
Intervertebral discs help cushion the stress of spine movement and protect the nerves. They also help hold the vertebrae together. All together there are 23 intervertebral discs: 6 in the neck (cervical), 12 in the middle back (thoracic), and 5 in the lower back (lumbar). In children these discs are gel or fluid-filled sacs. However, by early adulthood, the blood supply to these discs has stopped, and the nucleus has begun to harden and grow less elastic. By middle age, the discs have grown tough.
If you are suffering from back pain due to an intervertebral disc disorder, you should contact Dr. Hyun Bae, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating cervical and lumbar spinal diseases.
Cervical discs are the intervertebral discs at the top part of the spinal column, near the neck. There are 6 of these discs. Like all other intervertebral discs, they are composed of two layers: a tough outer exterior and a soft, gel-like interior. Their purpose is to cushion the spine, allow movement, and hold the vertebrae together.
Thoracic discs are the 12 middle discs in the spinal column. Like other intervertebral discs, they have a tough outer layer and a soft inner nucleus.
Lumbar discs are the 5 intervertebral discs in the lower back. They are composed of the same material and serve the same function as the cervical and the thoracic discs.
Intervertebral Disc Disorder
Intervertebral disc disorder refers to a condition of deterioration, herniation, or some other dysfunction of the intervertebral discs. One of most common of these is degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease describes the natural changes that occur in the spinal discs as you age. While degenerative disc disease can happen anywhere in the spine, it occurs most often in the lumbar and cervical regions. The changes that occur during degenerative disc disease can result in neck or back pain due to the following:
- Breakdown of the protective cartilage
- Abnormal bulge or breaking open of a spinal disc
- Narrowing of the spinal canal
If you think you may be experiencing degenerative disc disease, you should seek treatment at the Disc Replacement Center of Excellence in Los Angeles, as there may be options to alleviate your pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What causes intervertebral disc disorder?
A: A number of factors can contribute to a problem with the intervertebral discs. These include age-related changes such as the loss of fluid in the discs and tears or cracks that form in the outer layers of the discs. These tears or cracks allow the fluid inside the discs to leak out. Injuries such as falls may also lead to abnormal bulging of the spinal discs.
Q: What are the symptoms of intervertebral disc disorder?
A: The most common symptoms are neck or back pain, however this can vary from person to person. Some people feel no pain at all, while for others it affects their daily activities.
Q: How is intervertebral disc disorder diagnosed?
A: Your doctor will begin by assessing your medical history and administering a physical exam. You may then be asked to take a variety of diagnostic tests such as X-rays or MRI scans.
Q: How is intervertebral disc disease treated?
A: Options for treatment range from pain medication and rest to surgical procedures. Ultimately, you should visit a neck and back pain expert to determine the best treatment for your specific case.
Contact a Neck and Back Pain Expert
Are you suffering from neck and back pain? Does it affect your daily life? If so, you may need to visit Dr. Hyun Bae, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive microsurgery for the treatment of cervical and lumbar spinal disease. You don’t have to live with pain any longer. Call Dr. Bae today at (888)309-2848 to set up your appointment.
Next, read about degenerative disc disease.