The backbone, or spinal column, consists of a series of bones called vertebrae, that connect the skull to the pelvis. The vertebrae are separated and cushioned by discs, which are filled with a jelly-like substance that acts as a shock absorber between each vertebrae.
Nestled inside a channel running from the brain to the base of the spine is the spinal cord. From the spinal cord, nerves branch out to the arms, legs and other parts of the body. It is through the spinal cord and connecting nerves that the brain sends signals to the body allowing movement and all body functions.
Trauma or injury to the back can cause the cushioning discs to rupture or to protrude (herniate) from the spinal column; the disc then presses on the branching nerves.
Pressure on a nerve can be painful, and because these nerves travel to other parts of the body, pain, tingling or numbness can be felt in other parts of the body.
Treatment of a ruptured disc depends on the severity of the injury.