Slipped intervertebral disc. Computer illustration of a side view of the vertebral column with a slipped (herniated) disc. The intervertebral discs (blue) are pads of cartilage that sit between the bony blocks (vertebrae) that make up the backbone. One of these discs has ruptured (pink area) causing material to protrude outwards. This can place painful pressure on the spinal nerve roots. Slipped discs can heal with rest, but severe cases can require surgery.