Spinal discs are the circular, rubbery, chip like discs that cushion between two consecutive vertebrae in the spine. They are full and rich in water in a young person. However with aging and physical demand, spinal discs gradually become thinner, dryer and worn. In many cases the discs will start to split in the periphery. In the more severe cases, the discs will either be completely thinned out, or the center of the disc, filled with jelly like substance called the nucleus, will herniate out and cause problems ranging from neck or back pain to arm or leg pain. In some cases, an acutely ruptured disc can cause severe nerve compression that not only cause extremity numbness and weakness, but in rare situation also loss of normal bowel or bladder control.
If conservative management is not adequate, unless it is a surgical emergency (due to loss of bodily function), epidural steroid injection or selective nerve root blocks are of value in relieving the pain.