A herniated disc occurs when pressure from the vertebrae forces some or all of the soft interior of a vertebral disc to press on surrounding nerves, causing pain and weakness. Also called a slipped or ruptured disc, it is more likely to occur in the lower half of the spine and is a common injury among those between the ages of 35 and 55.
One of the biggest symptoms of a herniated disc is radiculopathy, which refers to a pinched nerve. Radiculopathy causes numbness, weakness, radiating pain, and a tingling sensation (pins and needles). Sciatica is a type of radiculopathy that is often seen alongside herniated discs.
How to prevent herniated discs:
Exercise Using Proper Form
Exercising with poor form is a surefire way to cause injury. When lifting, make sure to bend at the knees rather than at the waist. As you lift, keep your back straight and make sure the weight is being lifted using your legs. When it comes to twisting the spine, make sure to respect the spine’s natural range of motion. Over bending the spine can weaken the muscles over time and increase the risk of tear or injury. Strengthening the muscles in your back can do wonders in preventing back pain. Incorporate strengthening, balance, and flexibility exercises into your routine.
Practice Good Posture
When walking, sitting, standing, and sleeping, be mindful of your posture. It may be difficult at first, but once it becomes a habit, it will become like second nature. Practice standing up straight with your shoulders back, abdomen in, and your hips directly underneath your shoulders. Look in the mirror to make sure you are in proper alignment. When sitting for long periods of time, it’s important to stretch periodically to prevent muscle and joint tightness.
Carrying around excess weight can put you at higher risk for a herniated disc, as it puts more strain on the spinal column. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk. Other lifestyle changes include quitting smoking, which is associated with poorer bone and joint health. Staying healthy with a nutritious diet, proper exercise routine, and good health habits all contribute to good spine health.