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Intervertebral disc. Disc herniation

The bones (vertebrae) of the spinal column run down the back, connecting the skull to the pelvis. These bones protect nerves that come out of the brain and travel down the back and to the entire body. The spinal vertebrae are separated by disks filled with a soft, gelatinous substance, which provide cushioning to the spinal column. These disks may herniate (move out of place) or rupture from trauma or strain.

The spinal column is divided into several segments -- the cervical spine (the neck), the thoracic spine (the part of the back behind the chest), the lumbar spine (lower back), and sacral spine (the part connected to the pelvis that does not move).

Radiculopathy refers to any disease affecting the spinal nerve roots. A herniated disk is one cause of radiculopathy (sciatica).

Most herniation takes place in the lower back (lumbar area) of the spine. Lumbar disk herniation occurs 15 times more often than cervical (neck) disk herniation, and it is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. The cervical disks are affected 8% of the time and the upper-to-mid-back (thoracic) disks only 1 - 2% of the time.

Nerve roots (large nerves that branch out from the spinal cord) may become compressed resulting in neurological symptoms, such as sensory or motor changes.

Disk herniation occurs more frequently in middle aged and older men, especially those involved in strenuous physical activity. Other risk factors include any congenital conditions that affect the size of the lumbar spinal canal.

Auriculotherapy is a health care procedure in which stimulation of the auricle of the external ear is utilized to alleviate health conditions in other parts of the body. While originally based upon the ancient Chinese practices of acupuncture, the somatotopic correspondence of specific parts of the body to specific parts of the ear was first developed in France. It is this integrated system of Chinese and Western practices of auricular acupuncture which is presented.

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