It’s estimated that over 200,000 people in the United States suffer from at least one herniated disc each year, leading to back pain, leg pain, and weakness. At the Spine Center of Baton Rouge, we understand the pain caused by these ruptured discs and know how they can impact your life. That’s why we’re sharing our top tips on how to prevent herniated discs, so you can keep your spine happy and healthy!
But before we can get started on the prevention, it’s important to understand what herniated discs are and how they happen. Your spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae. Between each of these vertebrae is a small, flat disc that acts like a cushion, absorbing shock and allowing for easy movement of the spine. These discs consist of an inner jellylike substance called the nucleus and a solid but flexible outer layer called the annulus.
A herniated disc occurs when a part of the nucleus is pushed out through a tear or rupture in the annulus. Basically, the outer layer rips and the jelly-like interior bulges out.
These discs can be referred to as slipped, bulged, or ruptured discs. When they occur, they press against your spinal nerves, causing pain and discomfort. In most cases, herniated discs result from age-related wear and tear on the spine or degeneration of the disc.
Although these slipped discs are common with aging, they don’t have to be, as they can be prevented. To help you know how, here are five tips that can reduce your risk of herniating a disc and suffering from back pain.
Strengthening your core muscles, including your abdomen, provides stability to your spine and reduces the likelihood of having a disc herniate. What’s more, aerobic exercises that don’t stress the lower back, such as swimming, brisk walking, and cycling, can help you lose weight, which decreases the odds of ruptured discs.
Use proper form
Using improper form when lifting heavy objects can put unnecessary stress on your spine and cause a herniated disc. Instead of bending to lift an object by rounding the back or folding at the waist, squat at the knees to pick it up. If an object is too heavy, too big, or too awkward, find someone to help you lift it.
Improve your posture
If you have poor posture, you’re more likely to develop a herniated disc and suffer from lower back pain. This is especially true of those who slouch over a computer for long periods of time. To improve your posture, stand tall and strive to keep your shoulders aligned above your hips with your chin parallel to the floor.
Applying ergonomic changes to your workspace can also make drastic improvements to your posture, reducing your risk of herniating a disc.
Stop sleeping on your stomach
Your sleep posture is just as important to your spine health as your daytime posture. Sleeping on your stomach puts added stress on your back and should be avoided. Instead, sleep on your back or on your side.
If your mattress is soft, upgrading to a firm mattress offers better protection for your back and reduces your risk of disc herniation.
You already know that smoking isn’t good for your health and wellness, but it takes a particular toll on your spine. Cigarettes and other tobacco products accelerate spinal degeneration and impact the structural integrity of your discs, making them more likely to rupture.
If you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past and failed, talk to your doctor about other options that can improve your chances of quitting for good.
If you need guidance about herniated discs or any other spinal concern, don’t hesitate to give us a call or request a consultation here on our website.