5 Risk Factors That Can Lead to a Herniated Disc

Do you dread bending down to grab something off the floor? Do you avoid twisting your back because it causes you pain?

If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from a herniated disc. Your spinal discs are located between your vertebrae and provide cushion, absorbing shocks and preventing friction between your bones. A disc becomes herniated when the soft inner part gets pushed through a crack or tear in the tough outer layer of the disc. 

Symptoms of a herniated disc include pain in the back that radiates down to the buttocks and upper thighs, pain triggered by lifting heavy items, and pain that improves with walking or standing up but worsens with sitting down.

So what causes these discs to slip in the first place? We asked our team of specialists at Momentum Physical Therapy about the most common risk factors for a herniated or slipped disc.

Risk Factors for Herniated Discs

1. Weak core muscles 

Most people with pain in their back, hip, knees, and shoulders have weak core muscles. 

Your core does more than you may think. It stabilizes your entire body and keeps you upright for the whole day. However, weak core muscles force other areas in your body to work harder to keep you functional. And the areas that overcompensate for your weak core end up becoming strained and injured. 

Exercises such as pilates are great at strengthening your core and taking the load off your back, hips, knees, and shoulders. 

2. Excess body fat

Studies suggest a direct link between obesity and spine pain. The explanation is simple: The more weight you carry, the more strain that’s put on your back. 

You can determine whether you’re underweight, normal, overweight, or obese by using an online BMI calculator.

3. Nicotine consumption

Do you think nicotine patches are harmless? Think again. Nicotine in all forms, including patches and lozenges, restricts the blood flow to the discs between your vertebrae. This can either cause or worsen the development of degenerative disc diseases.

4. Lifting heavy loads 

Herniated discs are strongly associated with occupations that involve lifting heavy weights and carrying out repetitive movements that involve the back.

Even bodybuilders can develop slipped discs if they increase their reps or load too quickly and sacrifice good form.

5. Prolonged sitting 

You may be surprised to find out that your office job could be contributing to your back pain. Sitting down for extended periods puts more pressure on your lower back than standing up. 

Also, a poor posture while sitting can overstretch your spinal ligaments, putting even more strain on your spine.

Solutions for a herniated disc

Depending on the severity of your pain, our team at Momentum Physical Therapy offers several types of therapies that can get you back on your feet, including aquatic therapy and Pilates

And if you’re unsure what’s causing your pain, our team can also help you get an accurate diagnosis. 

Ready to kick your back pain to the curb? Contact us to schedule an appointment at our office in Los Angeles, California.

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