What causes disc herniations and how can I prevent it?

What causes disc herniations and how can I prevent it?

What causes disc herniations and how can I prevent it?

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What causes disc herniations and how can I prevent it?

In our spine practice, I am often the first person to talk with patients about their orthopaedic and spine problems during the course of their visit.   Through our educational website and during consultations, Dr. Shim has presented a wealth of information on how we manage and treat disc herniations.  As an allied health professional who works with Dr. Shim, I spend a fair amount of time educating patients about Dr.Shim’s recommendations and findings. The big question I am often asked is “what caused my disc herniation”?

In simplest form, the disc is essentially the shock absorber for your spine.  The disc is composed largely of water and proteins. As we age the water content decreases (“desiccation”) and the protein responsible for the structural integrity, elastin, chemically changes.  The true causes for some of these changes is not well understood. The disc loses its elasticity and cannot tolerate the same type of loads in mid and later life than it once could. When there is increased pressure on the disc (such as with bending, coughing, and heavy physical activity), the center core (“nucleus”) can get pushed toward the outer margins of the disc.  As the disc loses its elasticity, its ability to keep the nucleus contained decreases and may result in the jelly like nucleus being pushed out of the disc. Some refer to this as a “slipped disc”.  In other words, a herniated disc.

Disc herniations in the lumbar spine (low back) are much more common than those in the cervical spine (neck).  Disc herniations can develop for a number of reasons with the most common described above.  In the case of normal wear and tear, repetitive loading on a disc that is aging can result in a herniation. Keep in mind that not all disc herniations cause pain or symptoms!

As many also suspect, a sudden traumatic accident can also cause a disc herniation.  Car accidents and falls can lead to one or more disc herniations.

In general, we know that there are a numerous activities which can cause increased pressure on the spine and therefore raise the risk of a disc herniation:

  • Frequent, repetitive lifting
  • Smoking
  • Excessive body-weight / Obesity
  • Bending or working in awkward positions
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Accidents / Injuries
  • Coughing / Sneezing

Based on what I have discussed here, I think most would agree that it is nearly impossible to truly PREVENT a disc herniation.  There are some factors that we can control and some we cannot.  Knowing what you can do to help yourself and MINIMIZE your risks for a disc herniation is the key.

Citations

  • Jazini E, Glassman SD, Bisson EF, Potts EA, Carreon LY. Do Former Smokers Exhibit a Distinct Profile Before and After Lumbar Spine Surgery? Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2017 Jun 19; PubMed PMID: 28632644

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The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

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Author and Contributor to www.Spine-Health.com – July, 2015

www.Spine-Health.com/author/john-h-shim-md-facs

Chief of Surgery, Mease Countryside and Mease Dunedin Hospitals, Safety Harbor and Dunedin, Florida. 2014-2016.

Orthopaedic Section Chief Mease Countryside Hospital; Safety Harbor, Florida Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.2008-2013

Board Member Morton Plant Mease Research Council

Co-Director of Mease Neuro-Ortho Spine Center Mease Dunedin Hospital; Dunedin, Florida.

One of “6 Spine Physicians Ranked #1 on Google” – December 2016

Top Ten Most Liked Spine Surgeons on the Internet – July 2016

2016 Spine Surgeons to Know list – January 2016

2014 Spine Specialists to know list – September 2014

One of Ten Leaders of Certified Spine Programs – December 2011

 

The Best Orthopedics in Tampa

The information provided on this website does not provide or should be considered medical advice. It is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. The information provided is for informational purposes only. You should not rely solely on the information provided on this website in making a decision to pursue a specific treatment or advice. You should consult directly with a professional healthcare provider.

As a condition of using the information on this website, ShimSpine and its physicians are not responsible for any advice, diagnosis, treatment or outcome you may obtain.

ShimSpine.com is completely self-funded. No outside funds are accepted or used. This website does not utilize paid advertising as a source of revenue.
Outpatient Spine Surgery Considerations. www.Spine-Health.com. January 2016.

What is Spinal Stenosis? www.Spine-Health.com. October 2015.

Surgeon insights on the Changing Landscape of Orthopedic Care. OrthopedicToday. June 2014

Chapter 33: Interspinous Spacers. Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

Chapter 35: Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Lumbar Fusion Technique.Shim JH, Mazza JS, Kim DH Published in Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Spinal Techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Published 2011)

March 2010 Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting New Orleans, Louisiana February 2010

February 2010 A Review of Dynamic Stabilization in the Lumbar Spine Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

November 2009 Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Community Based Lecture; Tampa, Florida

September 2009 Instructor/Proctor Minimally Invasive Lumbar Cadaver Lab; Tampa, Florida

February 2009 New Spinal Technology: Cervical Disc Replacement and Interspinous Spacers. Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

February 2008 The Degenerative Spine: The Role of Dynamic Lumbar Stablization and Interspinous Spacers Selby Spine Symposium; Park City, Utah

October 2008 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

September 2007 Emerging Technology in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

October 2006 Emerging Technology and Techniques in Spinal Surgery Orthopaedics in the 21st Century Symposium; Morton Plant Mease Healthcare; Largo, Florida

May 2005 The Role of Kyphoplasty in the Treatment of Vertebral Compression Fractures Mease Neurosciences Symposium; Clearwater, Florida
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