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A herniated disc occurs when small tears form in the wall of an injured disc. Damaged pieces of the nucleus (which can harden and break apart with age) push through the tears and out of the disc wall. The herniated disc often compresses a nerve root, causing pain.

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Vertebral discs can be damaged by the normal wear of aging or by traumatic injury. Problems often begin when fibers in the outer wall crack and weaken. Radial tears form in and around sensitive nerve fibers in the disc wall. This can result in pain in the lower back radiating down one or both legs.

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Spinal stenosis results from new bone and soft tissue growth on the vertebrae, which reduces the space in the spinal canal. When the nerve roots are pinched, a painful burning, tingling and/or numbing sensation is felt from the lower back down to the legs and sometimes all the way to the feet.

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Facet joint arthritis is first treated conservatively with rest, ice, heat, anti­inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. In addition, facet joint blocks may be administered not only to diagnose facet joint pain but also to treat it. If non­surgical methods fail to relieve pain, a facet rhizotomy or bone fusion may be performed.

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