Disc herniation occurs when the soft and jelly-like center of a spinal disc pushes through its outer wall. A herniated disc can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness, more so in the injured area. Although anyone can be at risk for disc herniation, some individuals are more vulnerable than others.
Here’s how to know who is most at risk for disc herniation:
1. Individuals with Occupations that Require Manual Labor
People who perform manual labor are more likely to experience disc herniation due to the excessive strain they place on their backs for extended periods of time. Prominent examples are construction workers and laborers. Excessive back strain can result in degeneration of spinal discs. This weakens the discs, which increases the risk of herniation.
2. Individuals with Poor Posture
Poor posture often leads to disc herniation as it places undue strain on the spine and its discs. Slouching or hunching over can put pressure on a spinal disc, causing it to weaken and eventually herniate.
3. Individuals with Obesity
Individuals who are overweight or obese put extra strain on their spines, which increases the risk of disc herniation.With greater weight, the spine is less likely to have enough support and cushioning. The chances of overexertion and strain are higher. This increases the risk of herniation.
4. Individuals Who Play Impact Sports
Contact sports such as American football, rugby, and martial arts involve a lot of physical contact and impact.This can cause injuries to the spine, leading to degeneration of the spinal discs and thus, increasing the risk of disc herniation.
5. Individuals with a Genetic Predisposition
Some individuals may be more prone to disc herniation simply due to their genetics.This means that they may have weaker discs than the average person and are thus more susceptible to herniation.
6. Individuals Who Sit for Prolonged Periods
Sitting for long periods can lead to spinal disc degeneration. This is because it causes a lack of movement and tension in the spine, leading to weakness of the spinal discs.If left unchecked, this can eventually lead to herniation.
Herniated Disc Treatments
An orthopedic spine surgeon can use various treatments to address disc herniation. They will first diagnose the herniation to see what options will work best for you based on the specificities of your herniation.
Your doctor will diagnose your herniated disc using a physical examination, imaging tests, or other diagnostic procedures. After the diagnosis is complete, they will create a treatment plan for you.
Depending on where the herniation occurs, there are many treatment options. Non-surgical options include the following:
- Physical therapy – Strengthening the muscles that support the spine and increasing flexibility can reduce disc herniation symptoms.
- Medication – Anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce pain and swelling.
- Injections – Steroid injections can help reduce inflammation around the herniated disc.
- Manual manipulation – Your doctor or physical therapist may manipulate your spine to reduce herniation.
Your doctor may recommend surgery if non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful. This involves removing the herniated disc and replacing it with an artificial one.Surgery is often reserved for cases that are severe or have not responded well to other treatments.
How to Prevent Disc Herniation
Although some individuals may be more prone to disc herniation, anyone can reduce their risk of herniation. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of disc herniation:
Regular exercise can strengthen your spine and help prevent disc herniation.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying too much extra weight can put strain on your spine and weaken the discs.
Improve Your Posture
Poor posture can cause abnormal strain on the spine. Make sure to sit and stand up straight to reduce this strain.
Play Contact Sports Carefully
High-impact activities can cause trauma to the spine, leading to herniation. So, play carefully and in moderation.
Sitting for long periods can weaken the discs. Make sure to get up and move around regularly to keep your spine healthy.
When to Visit an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
Do you experience any pain or discomfort in your spine? If so, speak with an orthopedic spine surgeon.
You should also visit your doctor if:
- You have a family history of disc herniation
- You are involved in contact sports or other activities that may put your spine at risk
- You are concerned about your posture or lifestyle habits
Lumbar Disc Herniation Doctor in Rochester Hills, Lapeer, & Bad Axe, MI
Disc herniation is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort. The most at-risk individuals are those who have a genetic predisposition, sit for prolonged periods, or participate in contact sports. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of herniation and undergo treatments available, if necessary. Concerned about your spine health? Talk to an orthopedic spine surgeon for further advice.
Need an experienced and trusted doctor for disc herniation treatment in Michigan? Dr. Bradley Ahlgren of Ahlgren Spine is here to help you get the personalized treatment you need. Dr. Ahlgren is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, meaning he is an expert in back pain conditions. Callus today at (248) 215-8080, so we can best assist you. You can also submit an online appointment request form.