Herniated discs are not the most common back ailment, but they can occur at all ages. Typically, people ages 35 to 45 years old are most likely to suffer from a herniated disc, especially those who have jobs that require sitting for extended periods of time. A herniated disc can cause mild to severe back and leg pain, although they sometimes present no symptoms at all.
The term “herniated disc” is often used interchangeably with “bulging disc,” but both terms describe a condition that is characterized by a problem with soft, spongy tissues, or discs, that act as shock absorbers for our vertebrae. When the spine is healthy, these discs are aligned with the spine. Over time, the jelly-like fluid in the discs can press against the outer wall and eventually bulge through the wall and press against nerves that run along the spine. When a bulging disc presses against an adjacent nerve, pain, numbness, and weakness in the areas of the lower back and legs can occur.
So what puts us at greater risk for developing a herniated disc? Unfortunately, age is one of the leading causes of herniated discs. The older we get, the more likely we are to develop bulging discs, largely because we carry more wear and tear with us over the years. Being obese or overweight, which adds extra stress to the spine is another common cause, along with lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, work activities that place consistent strain on the back, and even smoking.
The best way to avoid bulging discs is to stay active, avoid smoking, and maintain good posture.
When lifting heavy objects, ensure that you use proper lifting technique to avoid injury and if you are ever subject to chronic back pain, or back pain that does not get better after a few days, see a spine specialist to get more information about potential treatments. Here at The SMART Clinic, we offer the most modern noninvasive treatments for herniated discs.