According to the National Library of Medicine, the chances of developing a herniated disc are estimated at 5 to 20 cases per 1000 adults annually. Herniated discs, also known as slipped discs, can happen anywhere along the spine but are most common in the lower back region. A herniated disc is one of the most common causes of lower back pain and sciatica. Up to 2% of people suffer from herniated discs causing lower back pain, weakness, radiating numbness, or tingling of the gluteal region and legs. Continue reading to understand the factors that can put you at risk of a herniated disc and how Auburn Chiropractic Associates can help.
What is a Herniated Disc?
Intervertebral discs are pads located between each of the vertebrae along the spine. They are made up of a jelly-like interior referred to as the nucleus pulposus that is covered with a harder cartilaginous exterior, the annulus fibrosus. The intervertebral discs help keep the vertebrae in place and absorb shock. Aging and gradual wear and tear can cause disc degeneration, which can lead to a non-contained disc disorder called a herniated disc. When a disc disorder is non-contained, it means a disc shifts to an area in which it does not belong and begins to leak fluid. When a disc becomes herniated, the nucleus pulposus of the disc protrudes out of its exterior annulus. The herniated disc ruptures and leaks the interior fluid which becomes an irritant to soft tissue in the spinal cord. In response, the nerves that are affected by the fluid begin to swell and cause back pain and other forms of dysfunction.
Risk Factors for Developing A Herniated Disc
When a person exceeds the recommended weight for their height, the spine carries much of the load. Excess body weight causes extra stress on the discs in the lower back. This can lead to herniation. Maintaining a healthy weight is a great way to prevent herniated discs. In some mild cases, weight loss can even be a way to resolve a herniated disc.
People with physically demanding jobs are at a greater risk of developing back problems. Heavy labor in a career has caused many people to develop herniated discs from overworking their bodies. Occupations that demand repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, bending, and twisting can increase the chances of herniating a disc. This injury can be caused when your back muscles are utilized to lift or move heavy objects instead of your leg muscles. Be sure to always lift with your legs and not your back as a good preventive measure.
In some instances, an increased risk of developing a herniated disc is genetic. Some studies have shown that those with immediate family members who have a degenerative disc disorder are more susceptible to developing a herniated disc. While it is not 100% proven, if a degenerative disc disorder or herniated discs are common in your family, your personal risk is likely higher than most due to having similar body types.
Smoking can increase the risk of herniated discs and disc disorders. Smokers may be prone to coughing excessively which can cause excess pressure and strain on discs. This strain can weaken your spine and increase the risk of a herniated disc. It is also thought that smoking can decrease the oxygen supply to discs, which causes the disc to weaken and become stressed.
5. Frequent driving
Driving excessively can lead to disc herniations due to the back stress of prolonged sitting. The structure of the driver's seat can cause a constrained posture while driving that can put pressure on the spine, especially in the lower back. The low-frequency vibrations from the vehicle’s engine can also impact the discs causing them to shift over time.
6. Being sedentary
A sedentary lifestyle puts more pressure on your back and spine from increased sitting and lounging. This type of lifestyle can increase your chances of having a herniated disc. Sitting for the majority of the day, especially with poor posture, adds extra pressure to the nerve tissue of the spine. Your spine is compressed 30% more while sitting as compared to standing. Sitting in one position for long periods of time hinders the flow of fluid and nutrients to the discs which can cause them to break down or shift.
How Your Auburn Chiropractor Can Help
If you are struggling with a herniated disc or are at a high risk of developing back problems, you do not have to suffer from lower back pain. Fortunately, a noninvasive method of care by a chiropractor near you can help prevent and alleviate the pain caused by herniated discs. For more than thirty years, Auburn Chiropractic Associates have been helping patients achieve happier, healthier lives by combining safe and effective procedures with individualized treatment plans. With a warm and caring environment and a passion for education, you will be gladly welcomed by our wonderful team at Auburn Chiropractic Associates. We want to take the time to get to know our patients of all ages with various health conditions to provide individualized treatment plans that ensure you receive quality care with excellent outcomes. If you have any questions or concerns about herniated discs, please don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form or call us at (334) 826-2225!