Herniated Disc

The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae separated by small discs to provide a cushion. The discs consist of a tough outer layer (annulus) and a soft inner layer (nucleus).

As the disc degenerates from age or injury, the nucleus can rupture through the annulus. This can irritate nearby nerves and cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the neck, back, leg, or arm.

Symptoms:

  • Pain at the level of the spine affected
  • Leg or arm pain, weakness, numbness, tingling
  • Pain worsens upon standing and decreases with lying down
  • Low back pain or leg pain that worsens when sitting, coughing, or sneezing

Common causes:

  • Gradual degeneration or wear and tear
  • Using back muscles instead of leg and hip muscles to lift large, heavy objects
  • Twisting and turning while lifting
  • A fall or blow to the back

Risk Factor:

  • Age - most common in ages between 30 and 50
  • Smoking - decreases oxygen levels in the blood, depriving the body tissues of vital nutrients
  • Excess weight - results in extra stress on the discs in the lower back
  • Greater height - increases risk of disc herniation
  • Physically demanding jobs - repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, bending sideways, twisting. Prolonged sitting or standing while using improper posture or ergonomics may also increase the risk of herniation