Ever feel back pain during the middle of the day? Ever lift something heavy and feel a tweak in your back? Are you in your fifties? Well, it’s possible that you may have a herniated disc! No fear, we have your back when it comes to understanding and preventing herniated discs.
A herniated disc occurs when your spinal disc, which is like a rubbery cushion, moves from its original position. The disc is normally located between the vertebrae in your spine. In other words, let’s say the spinal disc is a jelly donut and a herniated disc occurs when the “jelly”, or softer parts of the spinal disc, pushes out through an opening in the vertebrae. This can damage the spinal nerves coming out of that opening. While most people get herniated discs as they age into their mid-50’s and beyond, it’s still possible to get one earlier. It is important to be able to know the symptoms and to take precautions against herniated discs!
Before we delve into the symptoms, let’s cover why herniated discs happen. Disc herniation often occurs when you’re older. As you age, your spinal discs lose some of their water content. As a result, your discs become less flexible and more prone to tearing or rupturing after a minor strain or twist. Another cause of disc herniation is incorrectly using your back muscles to lift heavy objects. People with excess body weight or physically-demanding jobs are also at an increased risk. Genetics also plays a role, as some people inherit genes that make them more susceptible to disc herniation.
Image Source: Andy Ryan
Symptoms of Disc Herniation
In some cases, it’s possible to have a herniated disc without knowing it. In other cases, a herniated disc in either the lower back or neck can be very painful. You may feel arm or leg pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected spinal nerves.
Treating Disc Herniation
The conservative treatment for disc herniation involves exercise, pain medications, and physical therapy that minimize the pain. If these treatments fail to work, surgery is required to either remove the protruding “jelly” of the disc, or to replace the disc with metal hardware.
Preventing Disc Herniation
Ways to prevent disc herniation include exercising and maintaining good posture, which reduces pressure on your spine and discs. Keeping your back straight and using strength from your legs to lift heavy objects are important. Finally, maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce daily stress on your spinal discs.
Note that it’s never too late to adopt healthy habits, like eating healthy, sitting up straight, and lifting correctly, to prevent herniated discs! While herniated discs mainly affect older people, your back will thank you when you’re older. Regardless, the fear of getting a herniated disc should not stop you from living your life. With the right care, you’ll still be able to do your daily activities.
Featured Image Source: I got it! Moving box on back. by Meathead Movers