5 Risk Factors That Can Lead to a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc can be one of the more painful lower back problems, which often goes far beyond your back, as symptoms can travel down your leg. If you want to avoid a herniated disc, or prevent one from recurring, it’s helpful to understand your risk factors — some of which you can control and others you can’t.

Here at Genesis Orthopaedic and Spine, our team of musculoskeletal experts has an in-depth understanding of the many problems that can lead to back pain, including herniated discs. Here’s a look at some of the factors that can put you more at risk of this potentially debilitating condition.

1. A matter of age

Unfortunately, this first risk factor is one that’s not within your power to change — your age. As you grow older, the discs that separate and cushion the vertebrae in your spine can succumb to degenerative disc disease, especially in more active areas like your lumbar spine (lower back). This causes your discs to lose moisture and become more brittle, putting them at greater risk for bulging and herniation.

While you may not be able to control your age, you can acknowledge this risk factor and take steps to strengthen the surrounding supporting structures in your spine, namely the muscles in your lower back.

2. A matter of weight

If you’re carrying excess pounds, you’re more vulnerable to disc problems, such as herniation. Your spine is designed to carry and support a certain amount of weight, so when you add to this workload, your discs can break down more quickly.

Losing excess weight is a great way to avoid a herniated disc, as well as other types of back pain.

3. A matter of lifting

If you spend a lot of time lifting heavy objects, you’re at a much greater risk of developing back problems, including herniated discs. A great way to avoid this is to strengthen the muscles in your back and, when you lift something, use your legs to do the work instead of relying solely on your back.

4. A matter of bad habits

If you’re a smoker, we’re going to add herniated discs to the long list of reasons why you should quit. Smoking interferes with your cardiovascular health, including how blood that’s carrying oxygen and nutrients is delivered through the tiniest vessels (capillaries) to structures like your intervertebral discs.

5. A matter of health

One of the more common predictors for a lumbar herniated disc is the presence of diabetes, which leads to the same diseased capillaries that smoking does.

To mitigate this risk, it’s important that you manage your diabetes and your weight, and endeavor to lead a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise.

Treating a herniated disc

If you develop a herniated disc that doesn’t improve with rest and anti-inflammatory medications, the back pain specialists at our practice offer a number of treatment options, including:

If you’d like to learn more about preventing a herniated disc, or you need treatment for an existing one, please contact our office in Westfield, New Jersey, to set up an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What to Know When You Tear Your Meniscus

Knee injuries can be tough, given how much you rely on these large joints to propel you through the world. Here’s a look at one of the more common knee injuries — a meniscus tear — and how we can repair the damage.

What Can Be Done to Ease the Pain of Golfer's Elbow?

Despite its name, golfer’s elbow is a condition that starts with how you use your wrists and fingers, and it’s not only confined to golf. No matter how your golfer's elbow developed, here are some options for relief.

5 Steps to Prevent Running Injuries

We applaud the fact that you’re improving your health through a great running regimen. To help you stay on track, we’re taking this opportunity to outline a few ways you can prevent getting injured while you’re running.

Is Your Foot Problem Due to Plantar Fasciitis?

Do you jump out of bed in the morning only to be met by searing pain in your feet? The odds are that you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis. The good news is that we can put that pain-free spring back in your step.