Preventing Herniated Disks

You can reduce your chances of suffering herniated discs considerably by following a simple list of tips.
Preventing Herniated Disks

Last update: 08 November, 2019

Herniated discs are a common but serious injury that might require surgery in some cases. However, there are some factors that you can keep in mind to considerably reduce your chances of suffering from one.

Herniated disks: medical definition

Herniated discs occur when the fibrous ring that forms the outer layer of the vertebral discs tears. When that happens, the nucleus pulposus, which is the gelatinous inner core of the disc, falls out.

If the tear occurs towards the back part of a disc– which is what happens in most cases– the nucleus pulposus presses against the nerves that run down the spine.

The pressure brings about the constant, and most often, sharp pain that anyone who has experienced a herniated disc will understand. Adding on, more symptoms might also occur depending on where the hernia is. For example, if the hernia happens in a cervical disc, pain or numbness might affect the shoulders and arms.

Due to the nature of the spine and our busy everyday life, the back and neck areas are most vulnerable to hernias.

Causes and prevention

In order to understand how to prevent herniated discs, we first have to understand the possible causes. The most frequent culprits are the following:

Causes

The first most common cause is age. As we become older, our bodies grow weaker. Something that a younger person could handle might surpass the limits of an elderly person.

The second most common cause is related to age: limits. You should take great care in not surpassing the limits your spine can handle.

herniated disks causes

The next most common cause is harmful movements. Having poor posture when following through an action, no matter how small, has a negative effect on your body structure.

Lastly, another common cause is a sedentary lifestyle. The lack of exercise weakens the body, which gives any kind of negative action a stronger impact.

Prevention

With all the common causes in mind, follow these following tips to prevent herniated discs:

  • Keep good posture. Good posture is essential whether you’re sitting down or walking, running, swimming, grabbing something, working… you should always try to keep good posture. Every time you hunch over on the couch or pick up shopping bags without bending your knees is harmful to your spine. Take extra care when bending or rotating your core the wrong movement can really hurt your spine. In addition, when lifting heavy objects, always try to keep them right in front of you instead of to one side.
  • Try to avoid repetitive movements. Try to find different ways to do the same everyday task. An example could be switching your arms or alternating between standing up or sitting down.
herniated disks prevention

  • Stay in shape. Fight against the sedentary lifestyle. Exercise regularly, even if it’s just going out for a walk. Try to avoid staying seated for the most part of the day. Furthermore, you should always try to move your neck if you have to sit down at work. Look both ways, tilt your head and look up and down; these movements are extremely important for keeping your neck healthy.

Exercise and diet, key factors for preventing herniated discs

Our next point is still related to exercise: losing weight. If you’re overweight, your spine has to carry extra weight. One of the consequences could be a herniated disc.

Lastly, follow a healthy diet. You should set up your diet in a way that nourishes your body with everything it needs to face every day. In addition, it should have enough nutrients to be able to recover after expending large amounts of energy.

If you don’t follow a balanced diet, your muscles, bone, ligaments, and tendons all pay the price. If your body can’t recover properly, the damage only continues to build up until a point that could present serious problems.

Along the same lines, you should avoid smoking. Tobacco use alters the way the body absorbs the substances that it needs. Thus, though it’s not a direct factor that causes herniated discs, it’s another factor to consider.

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