Oftentimes, a herniated disc causes discomfort that stems from damage to the outer shell of one of the flexible cushions that separate the stacked vertebrae of the spine. Each intervertebral disc has a tough outer covering called an annulus fibrosus, and this outer layer surrounds a soft inner core. The top one-third of the annulus fibrosus has nerve endings, and if there is a tear in the annulus fibrosus, the nerve endings can become irritated and painful. In addition, the tissues of a torn disc can impinge on a nearby nerve root, resulting in pain, numbness, weakness, or a pins and needles sensation in the extremities. So, you may ask, what causes a disc to tear in the first place? There are actually many factors that can lead to a herniated disc. While some causes, such as improper lifting techniques, are avoidable, others, like simple genetics, are not.
Protect Your Back When You Lift
Good body mechanics can go a long way toward avoiding many common herniated disc causes. For example, lifting places more strain on your back than any other activity. When lifting heavy objects, the most important thing to remember is to use the strength of your leg muscles. Instead of bending at your waist, squat down, pick up the object, and then stand. Also, never lift and twist at the same time. Lift the object, and then turn your whole body using your feet instead of twisting your back. Finally, know your limitations. If you think the object might be too heavy for you to lift, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Keep Your Back Healthy
Once you have injured your back, you are more likely to experience spinal problems like herniated discs either immediately or down the road. Because a herniated disc causes neck pain, back pain, and other forms of discomfort for many patients, you should be especially vigilant about keeping your back healthy. Fortunately, this involves many of the very same steps that contribute to your overall health and well-being. For example, regular exercise, proper nutrition, good posture, and no smoking will help ensure that the muscles of your spine, legs, and core stay strong and supple, which helps take pressure and strain off your intervertebral discs.
If a herniated disc causes you discomfort, be sure to discuss conservative treatment options with your physician. Simply lifestyle changes can often add up to significant pain relief and delay or eliminate the need for surgery.