Located between the bony vertebrae of the spinal column, the vertebral disks act as cushions and shock absorbers to allow for freedom of movement of the spine. Activities that increase pressure in the lower back, such as repeatedly lifting heavy objects while bending at the waist, may cause the inner gel-like substance (called the center nucleus) of a lumbar vertebral disk to squeeze, or herniate, through the thick outer ring of cartilage (called the annulus) toward the spinal canal. The herniated material may cause compression of the spinal nerves leading to severe pain and/or altered sensation or movement of the leg. Most cases will often resolve with conservative efforts, but some, as in this case, may require surgery to remove the herniated material.
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