As we age, the spinal discs gradually lose fluid. This process starts at about age 30 and progresses over time. As the discs dry out, microscopic cracks or tears can form on the outer surface, causing it to become brittle, weak and more susceptible to injury. The most common causes of lumbar disc herniation or herniated disc are:
- Disc degeneration is the most common cause of a herniated disc. Discs dry out and aren’t as flexible as they once were.
- Repetitive movements such as work, lifestyle, and certain sports activities can put stress on the spine, especially the lower back, further weakening an already vulnerable area.
- Lifting the wrong way by not knowing about the proper form to grab heavier objects. An example of proper lifting is using your legs with a straight back.
- Injuries like high-impact trauma can cause the discs to bulge, tear or rupture.
- Carrying excess weight puts an undue amount of strain on the spine.
- There are some genes that are more commonly present in individuals with disc degeneration. More research is needed to investigate the role of these genes.
Symptoms of A Herniated Disc
When the inside material of the disc pushes through a tear in the outside of the disc, it can put pressure on your spinal nerves. Your nerves are sensitive and have strong reactions to any additional pressure. Pain from a herniated disc can vary, depending on the location and severity of the injury. It is typically felt on one side of the body. If the injury is minimal, little or no pain may be felt.
Herniated disc can manifest with a range of symptoms, including:
- Dull aches to severe pain
- Intense shooting pain in your thighs, buttocks, calves and even your feet
- Numbness, tingling, burning
- Muscle weakness, spasm, altered reflexes
- Impaired bowel or bladder control (note: seek medical attention immediately)
All of these symptoms are due to the irritation of the nerve from the herniated disc. By interfering with the pathway by which signals are sent from your brain out to your extremities and back to the brain, all of these symptoms can be caused by a herniated disc pressing against the nerves.
Disclaimer – Always consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding your medical condition, diagnosis, procedures, treatment plan, or other health related topics.