intervertebral disc damages: Generic term for damage to the intervertebral discs, subdivisible into disc protrusion (protrusio), disc prolapse (prolapse) and disc degeneration (chondrosis). As a result of normal aging processes, intervertebral disc damage is very frequent and often causes no discomfort.
Intervertebral discs consist of a ring-shaped, coarse fibrous cartilage ring (Anulus fibrosus) and a centrally located gelatinous core (Nucleus pulposus). Normal ageing processes lead to cracks in the fibrous cartilage ring. If material from the gelatinous core penetrates into the cracks, this leads to a protrusion or bagging (prolapse) of the fibrous cartilage ring into the spinal canal.
Intervertebral disc degeneration: In contrast to this, intervertebral disc degeneration describes an age-related height reduction of the intervertebral disc. This is caused by the reduced water content of the gelatinous core and the already described cracks in the fibrous cartilage ring. The reduction in height disturbs the finely tuned movements between two vertebrae and often leads to increasing damage and wear to the adjacent vertebral bodies and intervertebral joints. The latter occasionally cause stubborn back pain, also known as facet syndrome.
Damage to intervertebral discs can, but need not, be the cause of discomfort. Normal, age-appropriate wear and tear is not necessarily to be classified as pathological. The decisive question is whether and to what extent the altered disc squeezes neighbouring nerves. Such a constriction (nerve compression) manifests itself in neurological symptoms, either as sensory disturbance or as paralysis (muscle weakness) in the arms or legs. If bladder and rectum paralysis are also present, medical attention must be sought immediately, as this is an emergency situation. If left untreated, there is a risk of permanent nerve damage.
From the affected body areas it can be concluded at which height the responsible herniated disc lies and a differentiated treatment can be initiated. Slightly damaged nerves may recover in the course of several months.