Among the most common causes of neck, lower back, and thoracic pains are herniated discs. The human spine is made up of 33 bones (referred to as vertebrae) and in between each bone rests a cushion that features a liquid, jelly-like center. That cushion is referred to as a disk. The center of the disk is almost jelly-like in nature and is surrounded by a strong exterior. A herniated disk (some refer to it as a slipped or ruptured disk) occurs when that jelly-like substance comes out through that exterior casing. When that happens, nerves located within the vicinity of that exposed liquid become irritated and an individual can become prone to pain, numbness, or weakness in any arm or leg. Some individuals may suffer from a herniated disc but may not experience anything at all and won’t find out until x-ray images of the spine show the herniated disc. More often than not, a herniated disc can take place in the lower back but sometimes it can also occur in the neck region.
Herniated discs mostly result from the gradual aging of the body. As the body ages, the spine experiences gradual wear and tear (also referred to as disk degeneration) and the liquid at the center of the disk slowly dissipates. When that happens, the spinal disks become more vulnerable to fracturing due to the slightest of strains. A prime example of a herniated disc occurring is by relying more on your back muscle, as opposed to your legs and knees, when lifting heavy objects.
While age plays a role in the increased likelihood of suffering a herniated disc, other factors can also potentially result in a herniated disc:
- Individuals who are overweight are more likely to experience a herniated disc due to the increased pressure being placed on the lower back
- Jobs that require a good deal of physical labor in the moving of objects may result in a herniated disc
- Individuals with a family history of herniated disc display an increased likelihood of suffering from one.