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Causes of Herniated Discs From Lifestyle Factors to Traumatic Injuries



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By : Patrick Foote    14 or more times read
Submitted 2013-08-21 08:55:41
A herniated disc occurs when there is a tear in the outer layer, or annulus fibrosus, of an intervertebral disc, from which the inner substance of the disc, called the nucleus pulposus, seeps out. Many people experience herniated discs throughout their lives, but not everyone suffers from the chronic pain often associated with the condition. Depending on the size and location of the tear in the disc, as well as whether or not the nucleus pulposus leaks into the spinal column and irritates the spinal cord or nerve roots, the amount of pain one suffers from a herniated disc can vary. But, what causes a herniated disc? And how can a herniated disc only cause certain people pain? The answers to these questions are not always definite, but doctors have recognized some particular causes and risk factors that increase the likelihood of an individual suffering from a painful herniated disc.

Risk Factors

The main risk factor for developing a herniated disc is the natural aging process. Through time, your discs deteriorate due to wear and tear from various physical activities. As the discs weaken, they become more susceptible to ruptures and tears, regardless of how healthy one’s lifestyle is. However, there are other conditions and factors that can increase the rate of the unavoidable, natural deterioration of your intervertebral discs. For instance, if you suffer from a condition called degenerative disc disease, which basically describes a more severe and faster deterioration of your discs, your risk for herniated discs increases dramatically.

Other risk factors that can lead to a herniated disc include obesity, inactivity, poor posture, and substance abuse. Being overweight causes a number of serious health concerns, but in terms of spinal conditions, the extra weight an individual carries can add dangerous amounts of pressure to the spinal column, including the intervertebral discs. Also, obesity generally leads to inactivity, which is another risk factor for herniated discs. Weakened muscles in the back and neck can cause abnormal amounts of strain to be placed on the intervertebral discs. Likewise, years of poor posture and alcohol or other substance abuse can increase the rate at which discs degenerate, inevitably leading to disc problems.

Direct Causes

While risk factors can certainly add to your chances of developing a herniated disc, there are a number of direct causes or events that can result in a herniated disc. Trauma to the neck or back is a common direct cause of a herniated disc. Whether it’s a car accident, a sports related injury, or an accidental fall, any force that puts too much pressure on your spine can cause discs to tear. Even if the disc doesn’t tear right away, the damage done by an accident or injury can weaken a disc, leaving it prone to tears in the near or distant future.

Another direct cause of a herniated disc is the repetition of mechanical movements that put additional pressure on the spine. Manual laborers who consistently lift heavy weight are very prone to disc problems. Also, aggressive sports like football, hockey, and rugby, or sports that involve extreme amounts of jumping and hard landing like gymnastics can directly result in herniated discs. While exercise builds up back muscles and strengthens your resistance to injury, high impact sports can lead to the direct trauma and possible immediate tear of a disc. Even low impact sports like golf and tennis can lead to disc problems due to the repetitive swinging motions and twisting of the spine.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Many people may have a herniated disc without ever experiencing any symptoms or pain. However, herniated discs may be extremely painful depending on the severity of the disc rupture and the location of the disc. Chronic pain near the site of the degenerated disc is the most common symptom of a herniated disc. Accompanying the pain, individuals often feel symptoms that result from irritation of nerve roots near the affected disc. Symptoms resulting from nerve root compression due to a herniated disc include:

• Muscle weakness

• Numbness and tingling in the extremities

• The sensation of heat or pins-and-needles

• Diminished reflexes or neuropathic response

• Traveling or radiating pain

Diagnosing a herniated disc can be difficult because oftentimes, especially concerning traumatic injuries, there are other conditions that can create similar symptoms. Only a doctor can provide a proper diagnosis, so it’s important to have a professional consultation before you begin regular medical treatment. Treatments for herniated discs can range from more conservative techniques like chiropractic care or physical therapy, to minimally invasive, outpatient endoscopic procedures, to more invasive approaches like open-back spinal surgery.

Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for the treatment of a herniated disc and several other spinal conditions.

Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for a herniated disc and several other spinal conditions. http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/herniated_disc/
Author Resource:- Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for a herniated disc and several other spinal conditions. http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/herniated_disc/
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