Back Conditions

The healthy spine and motion unit concept

Before discussing how the spinal disc can cause back pain and/or leg pain (sciatica), or neck pain with or without down the arm irradiating pain, it is useful to first understand the role of a healthy disc in the spine and its anatomy.

The intervertebral disc is the so called anterior column of the spine and has several important functions, including functioning as a spacer, as a shock absorber, and as a part of the motion unit or functional spinal unit (FSU).

The intervertebral discs, joint capsules and ligaments hold the vertebrae together and control the range of segmental motion. The posterior wall of the vertebra, the bony arch and the yellow ligament extending from one arch to the next form a tube (spinal canal) containing the end of the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. Each segment has two lateral openings through which the corresponding nerve roots exit to the periphery.

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