Can Aging Cause a Herniated Disc?

Can Aging Cause a Herniated Disc?

Having a herniated disc can cause pain that affects your mobility and quality of life. While some people develop a herniated disc after a spine injury, your risk for experiencing this issue can also increase as you get older.

At The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care, our experienced spine surgeon Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, offers on-site diagnostic testing to identify herniated discs. Dr. Bo also provides epidural steroid injections and minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve pain and restore your mobility.

What happens when you have a herniated disc

Within your spine are protective discs that sit between each of your vertebrae. These discs have a tough, outer covering and a soft, gel-like center that helps absorb the shock of your movements.

Too much pressure on a disc can damage it and cause a herniation. When a disc herniates, or ruptures, the gel center moves outward and can irritate nearby nerves.

Nerve compression from a herniated disc can cause persistent symptoms that affect your back, legs, and arms. These symptoms include:

A herniated disc in your lower (lumbar) spine can also put pressure on your sciatic nerve and cause persistent pain related to sciatica.

In severe cases, a herniated disc can cause the loss of control over your bowel or bladder.

How aging plays a role in a herniated disc

As you get older, the structures of your spine start breaking down naturally. Your discs lose their water content and become weaker and less flexible.

Weakness in the discs increases the likelihood that they can rupture, especially if you fall or experience another type of injury. If you work at a job that requires a lot of twisting and bending, your risk for a herniated disc increases even more.

In addition to aging and strenuous activity, you might be more prone to having a herniated disc because of your:

The good news is that there are things you can start doing now to lower your risks for developing complications from a herniated disc.

Lifestyle changes to prevent a herniated disc

One of the most effective ways to keep your spine structures healthy is to stay active. There are exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles that support your spine to reduce your risk for a herniated disc.

Other lifestyle changes you can make to protect your spine health include:

Practice good posture

It’s also important that you practice good posture at all times. If you spend a lot of time working at a desk or driving, be sure to stand up and walk around as often as possible.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, there are many great reasons to quit now. We can provide you with resources to help you quit smoking for good, so you can avoid spine injuries and other serious health consequences.

Maintain a healthy weight

Your weight also plays a role in your risk for herniated discs as you age. Eat a healthy diet and get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day to shed excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

If you have trouble losing weight on your own, ask your primary care provider for help creating a safe weight loss program.

If you have symptoms of a herniated disc and need a diagnosis, call The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care office nearest to you today or book an appointment online. 

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