A slipped disc is an injury to the intervertebral discs, which are the soft, rubbery pads that sit between adjacent vertebrae. They evenly distribute stress placed on the spine and help it flex. When one of the discs slips or herniates, it protrudes into the spinal canal and compresses the spinal nerve, which can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the back and/or legs. The three most common reasons why this type of injury might occur are:
A Patient Has Degenerative Disc Disease
The intervertebral discs of aging peoples, especially those over 50, lose water content and shrink in what is known as degenerative disc disease. As discs shrink, the space between adjacent vertebrae decreases, which makes spine flexing, bending and twisting much harder. Because of this, the discs of patients with degenerative disc disease are more likely to slip than those of patients without the condition.
Illustration 1- A normal disc vs. a slipped disc
A Patient is Overweight
Excess body weight places pressure on the spine and its muscles and ligaments. Patients who remain overweight for an extended period of time may experience:
- A change in posture. The curvature of the lower back increases and the pelvis tilts too far forward.
- Overweight patients who live a sedentary lifestyle may experience a decrease in bone density and develop osteoporosis.
- When too much pressure is placed on the intervertebral discs, the space between adjacent vertebrae narrows and osteoarthritis develops.
Any, all, or any combination of these factors increases the likelihood of a slipped disc.
A Patient Lifts an Object with Improper Form
When someone bends at the waist to lift a heavy object, they place a tremendous amount of pressure on the intervertebral discs of their lower back (lumbar spine), which may cause a slipped disc. Instead of bending at the waist, it’s recommended that people bend at the knees. Lifting in this manner allows heavy objects to be lifted using the large, strong muscles of the legs, buttocks, and upper back.
What to Do If You Think You May Have a Slipped Disc
Orthopedic Spine Specialists are highly trained, skilled, and experienced medical professional that treat all spine injuries and conditions, including slipped discs. If you can relate to the information in this post, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices to arrange an appointment with one of our specialists. We’re currently accepting new patients and will get you in ASAP.
The Spine Team at Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates consists of Physical Therapists, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialists and Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeons. Our goal is to design a treatment plan customized to your lifestyle and goals and we use the latest advancements in both non-surgical and Minimally Invasive spine care. We have offices located in Plymouth, Duxbury and Sandwich, MA. Contact us today!