Anatomy: Vertebral discs are tough, elastic pads that act as shock absorbers for the vertebrae. They cushion the vertebrae and allow the spine to twist and bend. Each disc has a tough, fibrous outer wall and soft inner nucleus.
Herniation: A herniated disc can result from the normal wear and tear of aging. It can be caused by heavy lifting or by sudden, damaging motions. It can also be caused by a traumatic spine injury. In a typical rupture, small cracks or tears form in the disc’s outer wall. The soft material in the nucleus pushes through this weakened area. This disc material can bulge into the spinal canal. It can press against the spinal cord. It can also press against nerve roots.