Common Causes of a Herniated Disc
Some of the most common causes of a herniated disc are things that you simply can’t avoid. The natural aging process, for instance, is a leading cause of disc herniation. Over the years, the intervertebral discs that support the spinal column and act as the spine’s natural shock absorbers begin to deteriorate as a result of normal wear and tear, which often causes a condition known as a herniated disc (or disc rupture) to develop.
The Intervertebral Disc
In order to fully understand what causes a herniated disc, it helps to have a basic overview of the anatomy of an intervertebral disc. Generally speaking, each disc has two main components, the:
- Nucleus pulposus – Gel-like inner disc material that gives the disc its flexibility and “give”
- Annulus fibrosus – The tough outer shell that gives the disc its resiliency and shape
A herniated disc refers to a condition that develops in the spinal column when a tear occurs in the annulus fibrosus, which may allow the nucleus pulposus to seep out of the disc and into the spinal column. So, why do these tears develop?
Specific Herniated Disc Causes
Individuals of all ages and health can develop a herniated disc, although this condition is most commonly experienced by those who have reached middle age. As a rule of thumb, nearly any activity that puts undue strain on the spine can be a risk factor for a herniated disc. For instance, athletes are often at risk for accelerated spinal deterioration as a result of the repetitive strain that they place on their bodies. Somewhat paradoxically, obese individuals are also especially prone to herniated discs as the burden placed on the body by supporting excessive body weight can eventually lead to disc problems, even if the individual leads a relatively sedentary lifestyle.
In most instances, a combination of noninvasive treatment methods causes pain from a herniated disc to abate. However, if several months of conservative techniques fail to mitigate a patient’s symptoms, more advanced treatment may be required. To learn more about the most common herniated disc causes, contact your physician today, and if you’re interested in learning about how an endoscopic procedure may be able to help you find relief from your symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute.