The highest prevalence of disc herniation is among people aged 30-50 years, with a male to female ratio of 2:1. In people aged 25-55 years, about 95% of herniated discs occur at the lower lumbar spine (L4/5 and L5/S1 level); disc herniation above this level is more common in people aged over 55 years. – NCBI
Back pain overwhelms your life when you least expect it. One moment you are sitting comfortably, reading a book, and the next second when you try to grab your coffee mug – ouch! A sharp strikes through your lower back.
What may be the cause? Out of a multitude of reasons, it might be a herniated disc. Let us see how…
What is a herniated disc?
To know about herniated disc, you will need to understand the anatomy of the spine. Your spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae. Some of these vertebrae are cushioned by small, round and flat discs. These discs are surrounded with a tough, outer layer, known as annulus that further surrounds jelly like material called the nucleus. These discs are located between each of the vertebrae in the spinal column and act as a shock absorber for spinal bones. These discs are what that allow you to move and bend over your spine. However, the problem arises when a disc between two vertebrae starts slipping out of place. It irritates the surrounding nerves and is the reason for extreme pain you feel. The condition is called a herniated disc or slipped disc
Risk factors for herniated disc
Cause #1 – Wear and tear on the spine
The daily wear and tear on the spine often lead to a condition called degeneration that causes pain. Our spine carries and helps distribute the overall weight, and the discs absorb shock from movement, like walking, twisting and bending. Because the discs contribute so much in our movement, they often wear out over the course of time. The annulus fibrous weakens, allowing the nucleus pulpous leak which creates a bulging or herniated disc.
Cause #2 – Injury
An injury that includes sudden, jerking movement can put too much pressure on the disc, causing it to herniate. Sometimes, lifting a heavy object incorrectly can also twist the disc extremely.
Cause #3 – Lifting Improperly
It is possible that you may have herniated your disc lifting improperly. This usually happens when flexing or rounding of your spine while twisting. This puts extreme pressure and torsion on the spinal segment.
Cause #4 – Lifestyle choices
Lifestyle choices, like overweight, lack of exercise and smoking can also lead to herniated disc. Other factors include – loss of strength and weakness of the disc due to aging, poor posture, repetitive and incorrect lifting or twisting motions.
Cause #5- Sitting Improperly
Believe it or not, sitting improperly is the number one reason why patient’s herniate their disc. it happens because sitting puts the most pressure on your disc! It weakens the annulus, the outer layer of your disc. Overtime this allows the nucleus to herniate.
Symptoms of herniated disc
Depending on the herniated disc and size of the herniation, symptoms vary greatly. If the herniated disc is not insisting on the nerve, the patient may experience either low back pain or no pain at all. If it is pressing the nerve, the patient might experience pain, numbness or weakness in the area of the body to which nerve goes through. Usually, a herniated disc is followed by an incident of low back pain or a history of similar intermittent incidents.
● Lumbar spine – Sciatica is the outcome of frequent herniated disc in the lower back. Pressure on several nerves contributes to the sciatic nerve that can lead to pain, burning, tingling, and numbness that emits from the buttock to leg or foot. Usually, life or right side is affected. This pain is similar to spontaneous or electric shock. It may become more severe with movements, like walking, sitting, or standing.
● Cervical spine – This condition affects neck and symptoms include sharp pain in neck or shoulder blades. The pain usually radiates down the arm to the arm or fingers and cause numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm. The pain may increase with movements in the affected area.