Herniated Disc Risk
Normal activities and just living your life causes a series of minor injuries to your spinal discs, but in most cases they are happy and healthy for your entire life.
Some activities and situations put you at additional risk for a disc injury or a disc herniation.
Repetitive Sports Injuries
High impact sports like football and hockey can force the spinal discs to absorb tremendous forces beyond what they can withstand.
Sports that require extreme flexibility such as gymnastics and wrestling will also force your discs into positions that are likely to cause problems.
When the annulus is placed under pressure because of a large impact or being forced to bend abnormally it may begin to weaken.
Repetitive impacts or extremes of bending may cause the annulus to tear or rupture.
Back Pain Plus
A break in the annulus can cause severe back pain. It may allow the nucleus pulposis to be forced out of the disc and into the spinal canal.
If this extruded piece of disc is pressing on a nerve it can cause serious pain radiating into one or both buttocks.
These types of activities put great stress on your intervertebral discs.
Image thanks to kevahoya, via Wikimedia Commons
Large forces sustained in falls and motor vehicle accidents can cause a break in the annulus forcing the nucleus out of the disc. These types of accidents may also cause fractures of the vertebrae and other bones.
When sufficient force is applied the disc may tear completely and allow one vertebra to be totally separated from the next. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and possible paralysis.
Occupations that require repetitive motions, especially constant bending and lifting or twisting type motions can begin to breakdown the fibers of the annulus and eventually it may develop a crack or begin to tear.
The annulus around the outside of your discs is tough and flexible but it can be damaged by a single large force or repetitive minor forces. It is full of nerve endings and an injury will cause back pain that may be severe.
May occur at any Level of Your Spine
When the inner part of the disc comes out and begins pressing on a nerve you may experience pain, numbness, or weakness in one of your arms or legs.
The discs in your lumbar spine are the most at risk because of the extreme flexibility that they allow and the weight of your body that they are forced to carry.
However, you can have a herniated disc at any level of your spine.