February 21, 2017

What is a Slipped Disc and How Can It Be Prevented?

How to Avoid and Prevent a Herniated Disc With Simple Lifestyle Changes

The spine is a series of vertebrae stacked on top of one another from top to bottom. Between each vertebra are small layers of tissue known as discs that serve as cushions for the spine. These discs help protect the spinal column from daily activities, such as running, walking or lifting. Oftentimes, the shock from these activities can wear down the discs causing pain, discomfort and even numbness. This pain is known most commonly as a slipped disc or a herniated disc.

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Inside each of the discs, there is a gelatinous material surrounded by a tough outer ring. A slipped/herniated disc occurs when the inner part of the disc begins to protrude through the tough outer portion. In some cases, the disc can press on a nerve in the spine, causing a great deal of pain and/or numbness.

Common herniated disc symptoms include:

  • Arm or leg pain stemming from the lower back
  • Feeling weakness when lifting
  • Numbness/tingling in the back or extremities

It is unfortunate that those who experience a slipped disc are likely to experience it on a recurring basis, but by taking the correct steps and maintaining healthy habits, the pain and discomfort can be minimalized or prevented altogether.

Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent a slipped disc:

Avoid/Quit Smoking

Smoking can cause bones to become dry and brittle. Nicotine consumption can stunt vertebrae from receiving the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy.

Exercise/Eata Healthy Diet

By eating unhealthy foods and gaining extra weight, one can put unnecessary strain on the back, possibly leading to a slipped disc.

By exercising regularly and eating sensibly, a slipped/herniated disc can be relieved or prevented.

Maintain Good Posture

Occasional slumping or slouching is common, but doing so on a regular basis can create pain and irritation over time, possibly leading to a slipped disc. For those who sit at a desk most of the workday, try keeping the computer at eye level. This will naturally straighten posture and prevent pain from worsening over time.

Practice Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting with legs, maintaining a straight back, using manageable weight and not twisting or jerking can make lifting much easier on the back. It can prevent pain and wear on the spine, especially in people over forty.

Invest in a Supportive Mattress

It is crucial to find a mattress that supports the natural curve of the spine. Employing a supportive mattress keeps the back in an unstrained position while sleeping, avoiding pain and injury.


In more extreme cases, herniated disc surgery may be the answer, but simple changes in day-to-day life can often alleviate pain. By taking the proper preventative measures and adapting healthy habits, a slipped/herniated disc can be avoided, with years of recurring back pain no longer a reality.

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