The vertebrae at the top of the spine are separated from each other by discs of cartilage which cushion them from impact. The discs have a fibrous outer casing surrounding a soft, pulpy centre, and when the casing is damaged, the pulpy centre will either bulge out or bust, causing a slipped disc, or prolapsed disc. A slipped disc can irritate other ligaments of the outer membrane of the spinal cord, or may constrict a spinal nerve. The pain may be severe, dull or aching, either at the site of the problem, or elsewhere along the area served by the affected nerve. There may also be muscle spasm, nerve irritation or numbness in the leg or foot. If the problem recurs, the weak ligaments can be helped by tonifying the kidneys and strengthening the muscles. Herbs include cinnamon bark, wolfberry and eucommia bark.
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