Protect Your Spine: 5 Tips To Prevent A Herniated Disc
Updated: Jul 6
Our spine plays a handful of important roles that enables our day-to-day motions. One of its duties is to protect the spinal cord and the nerve roots that let us move in all sorts of ways, from large and sweeping strokes of our limbs to the delicate and precise movements of the fingers.
As you may already know, the spine consists of 26 bones called vertebrae cushioned by jelly-like discs that serve as cushions. Whether from old age or an injury, these discs can deteriorate or get injured and turn into a herniated disc or slipped disc, resulting in pain of varying intensity that affects different parts of the body.
An Overview of Herniated Discs
The discs or the cushioning materials between each vertebra act like shock absorbers. They consist of an outer layer of tough tissue called disc annulus and protect the nucleus pulposus within. Should the annulus ever suffer a tear or rupture, the nucleus gets pushed into the spinal canal, causing a herniated disc.
This poses an issue since the spinal canal that runs through the vertebrae only contains enough space to hold the spinal nerve. Thus, the displaced disc and nucleus that spills through it invade this crowded space and put pressure on the spinal nerve, causing some pain.
How to Avoid A Herniated Disc
Herniated discs can arise due to a disease or injury, but the most common reason is ageing. Getting in on the years causes the spine’s discs and supporting structures to weaken and cause the former to become more vulnerable to rupturing and tearing. Even something as simple as lifting something or making small twisting motions can damage our discs as we age.
Most herniated discs tend to develop in the lower back and neck but can pop up anywhere along the spine. Avoiding herniated disc problems starts with looking at the primary causes of this condition and steering clear of them as much as possible. For instance, lifting heavy items incorrectly puts significant pressure on the spine, particularly the lower back. Therefore, follow the right lifting method to reduce your risk of developing a herniated disc.
Tips To Prevent A Herniated Disc
Making certain lifestyle changes is necessary to reduce your risk of experiencing a herniated disc as much as possible. And since most cases of the condition occur in the lower back and neck, the prevention tips below will focus mainly on these areas.
1. Exercise regularly
Focus on exercises that help strengthen your core, back, and leg muscles, as well as the tendons and ligaments of your body. Do not neglect aerobic exercises, too, since they boost your cardiovascular system, which in turn keeps body tissues healthy. Lastly, include flexibility exercises in your exercise regimen to help stretch and loosen your back muscles and ligaments.
2. Improve your posture today
Whether standing, sitting, walking, or running, be mindful of your posture and always keep your spine straight, head up, and shoulders back. Poor posture puts unnecessary pressure on the spine’s discs, particularly those in the lower back and neck, and increases their risk of turning into herniated discs.
3. Follow proper lifting techniques
People commonly lift heavy items by bending at the waist, making the back do most of the work. In addition, they often twist at the waist during the process, putting the spine at risk of injury and requiring a trip to a lower back pain clinic if things do go wrong. Instead, keep your back aligned and lift by using your powerful leg muscles by bending your knees and standing up. This way uses the force from the legs instead of the back for lifting.
4. Avoid smoking
Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis and spinal disc regeneration by depriving healthy tissue of oxygen and nutrients and oxygen. The heavy bouts of coughing from habitual smoking also increase pressure on the spine.
5. Change positions frequently
Staying in the same position for too long without shifting your posture puts pressure on certain spinal discs and the overall spine. Thus, healthcare providers recommend moving and stretching at least every 30 minutes.
Preventing a herniated disc is always better than curing it. However, if you still get a slipped disc despite being extra careful, consider reaching out to a back and neck pain specialist in Singapore to help you manage your pain symptoms.
Affinity Pain Clinic provides cost-effective and evidence-based treatments for a wide range of pain conditions, whether neck and back pain, musculoskeletal pain, joint pain, or more. With our assessment and intervention methods based on industry-leading practices, you can rest assured that our pain management solutions will make you feel better in no time.
For more details about our great yet affordable treatments, do not hesitate to drop us a message by filling out the contact form here.