Herniated discs are some of the most common causes of back or neck pain. Although they are increasingly likely to happen as you age due to normal wear and tear, herniated discs don’t have to be inevitable. In fact, there are many things you can do in daily life to help prevent disc herniation now and in your later years.

Part of the chiropractic program we use at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV, is all about education and teaching patients how to care for their backs and bodies. Here’s what you should know about herniated discs and how to prevent them.

What is a herniated disc?

Before you can prevent a herniated disc, you must understand what it is and why it occurs.

In between the vertebrae of your spine sit fluid-filled discs surrounded by a firm “wall.” Over time, these discs can lose their thickness and elasticity, weakening to the point of being unable to absorb shock from the vertebrae.

As weakening continues, the disc may “bulge” or protrude into the spinal canal slightly. With further weakening, the gel-like liquid in the center of the disc may break through the disc’s outer wall. This is disc herniation.

Disc herniation might occur in any segment of the spine, but lumbar herniated discs are some of the most common. Symptoms of a herniated disc may include sharp and dull pain in the spine, as well as numbness or tingling radiating away from the painful area. These symptoms are often caused by compression of the nerves in the spinal canal or inflammatory responses caused by the disc’s liquid interior. Certain movements or positions may exacerbate your symptoms.

Lowering your risk of disc herniation

Fortunately, preventing a herniated disc is much easier than it seems. Most of these risk-prevention tips are things you should already be doing to improve your overall wellness.

  • Have good posture: Maintaining good posture every day as you walk, stand, sit, and even sleep can help lower your risk of disc herniation by keeping your spine in good shape. Poor posture puts excess pressure on the vertebral discs, potentially causing them to lose their shape and become injured.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess body weight puts added pressure on the spine, which could lead to a higher risk of disc herniation.
  • Exercise often and properly: Exercising is critical to maintaining a healthy spine, but you must exercise properly to avoid stress or injury. When lifting, maintain good form and lift using the knees – not the back. Working out can also help strengthen the muscles in your back, so your spine is more supported.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of disc herniation by impeding disc health. If you smoke, your discs may degenerate faster than they normally would.
  • Eat well: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is also crucial in order to maintain proper disc health and reduce your risk of developing a herniated disc. Incorporate lots of fresh, whole foods into your meals for better spinal and total-body health.

If you’re starting to experience back pain, speak to one of the licensed chiropractic professionals at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV. We can provide more specific tips for your type of pain, on top of the general tips listed here. And, using our holistic Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach to patient wellness, we can set you up with a treatment plan that may alleviate the formative symptoms of disc herniation.

Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.