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Herniated Discs – What are the Causes?
Thursday, December 21, 2017

You also can have a herniated disk without knowing it — herniated disks sometimes show up on spinal images of people who have no symptoms of a disk problem.   Even those who do show symptoms are usually unable to pinpoint the exact cause of their herniated disk.

Disk herniation is usually caused by gradual, aging-related wear and tear called disk degeneration. As you get older, your spinal disks lose some of their water content. That makes them less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist. Other causes include:

 

  • Repetitive movements: work, lifestyle, and certain sports activities that put stress on the spine, especially the lower back, further weaken an already vulnerable area.
  • Lifting the wrong way: always lift with your legs and a straight back.
  • Injury: high-impact trauma can cause the disc to bulge, tear or rupture.
  • Obesity: excess weight puts an undue amount of strain on the spine.
  • Genetics: Some genes are more common in individuals with disc degeneration.
 

 

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of a herniated disk may include:

·        Weight – excess body weight causes extra stress on the disks in your lower back.

·        Occupation – people with physically demanding jobs have a greater risk of back problems. Repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, bending sideways and twisting also may increase your risk of a herniated disk.

·        Genetics – some people inherit a predisposition to developing a herniated disk.

 

Complications

Your spinal cord doesn't extend into the lower portion of your spinal canal. Just below your waist, the spinal cord separates into a group of long nerve roots that resemble a horse's tail. Rarely, disk herniation can compress this area called the cauda equina. Emergency surgery may be required to avoid permanent weakness or paralysis.

 

Get emergency medical attention if you experience any of these:

 

·        Worsening symptoms – pain, numbness or weakness that increases to the point that you can't perform your usual daily activities

·        Bladder or bowel problems – people who have cauda equina syndrome may become incontinent or have difficulty urinating even with a full bladder

·        Saddle anesthesia – this progressive loss of sensation affects the areas that would touch a saddle — the inner thighs, back of legs and the area around the rectum.

 

Prevention

To help prevent a herniated disk:

 

·        Exercise – strengthen the trunk muscles to help stabilize and support the spine

·        Use good posture – good posture reduces the pressure on your spine and disks

·        Maintain a healthy weight – excess weight puts more pressure on the spine and disks, making them more susceptible to herniation.

 

The good news is that herniated disks are usually manageable without requiring an invasive procedure, but if you need help, please contact us.

 

 





 
 
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