A herniated disc is a common and serious condition that may require surgery. However, various factors greatly reduce the chances of suffering from it. Find out in this article how to prevent a herniated disc.
Disc herniation: definition
We speak of a herniated disc when there is a degeneration of the fibrous annulus that forms the outer layer of the discs present between each vertebra. Following this, the pulpy nucleus that is inside the annulus, which has a gelatinous consistency, comes out.
If the rupture has occurred towards the back, the most frequent case, the nucleus pulposus compresses on the nerves that run through the spine or spinal cord. It is for this reason that the main symptom experienced by a person with a herniated disc is constant and usually sharp pain.
Depending on the height at which the hernia occurred, other symptoms will also occur. For example, if it affects the cervical area, it is possible to experience pain in the shoulders or arms, as well as numbness in the area. Due to the characteristics of the spine and our current lifestyle, the lumbar and cervical areas are the most likely to suffer from hernias.
Causes and prevention
To understand how to prevent a herniated disc, it is best to first know the causes. The ones we present below are the most frequent.
The first cause is age. As we age, the structures of the body weaken and an effort that we could have endured when we were young, at a certain age can lead us to exceed our limits.
The second cause is related to the first: efforts. We must be very careful and not require too heavy work on our spine. Thirdly, there are the erroneous movements. Poor posture when making an effort, however small it may be, will damage structures over time.
Finally, another determining factor is the sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical activity will weaken the structures of the body, consequently any negative gesture will have a greater impact.
How to prevent a herniated disc
Taking into account what has just been said, to prevent the appearance of a herniated disc, it is necessary to follow the advice that we describe in the next lines:
- Maintain proper postural hygiene. It is essential both when we are sitting and when we walk, run, swim, take something, work … we must always try to maintain correct body posture. Every time we sit with our back hunched on the sofa or take shopping bags by lowering our back without bending our knees, we damage our spine.
We must pay particular attention to the flexion and rotation movements of the trunk, as they are the ones that damage the spine the most. Instead, it will be better to always put ourselves in front of a weight that we have to lift, rather than bending to one side.
- Avoid repetitive harmful gestures. This means replacing certain gestures that we repeat very frequently every day with others that have the same effect. One of these is to change the arm with which activities are carried out at work, instead of always using one’s strong part, or alternating moments standing and moments sitting.
- Maintain good physical shape. We have to fight a sedentary lifestyle and this is possible simply by doing physical activity, even just walking. You should avoid spending most of the day sitting.
In this point we can also include the need to move the neck frequently if we are forced to sit for work, for example. Looking from one top to the other, bending your head and looking up and down is very important to keep the cervical area in good condition.
How to prevent a herniated disc: sports and nutrition
This point is also related to sport: losing weight. If you are overweight, you put extra weight on your spine and one of the consequences can be the appearance of slipped discs.
To lose weight, it is equally important to pay attention to the diet. The goal of nutrition is to offer our body the substances it needs not only to work properly day after day, but also to recover faster after excessive exertion.
If we do not follow a balanced diet, muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons will be affected. If a structure is unable to regenerate properly, damage will accumulate which, in the long run, will be highly counterproductive.
Those who want to know how to prevent a herniated disc should also keep in mind that it is not worth smoking. In fact, tobacco can alter the way in which the body absorbs the substances it needs, so it is good to take this into account although it does not have a direct effect.