A prolapsed disc (also referred to as a herniated disc, collapsed disc, slipped disc or ruptured disc) develops when the jellylike material inside of a spinal disc escapes into the spinal canal through a tear in the disc’s exterior wall. Although the tear itself does not usually cause symptoms other than localized neck or back pain, if the leaked material comes into contact with the spinal cord or surrounding nerve roots, the resulting irritation can cause pain, numbness and muscle weakness in other areas of the body.
Below are five factors that can cause a spinal disc to prolapse, with aging being the most common of these causes:
- Aging — As a person ages, his or her spinal discs tend to lose their elasticity, which makes them more susceptible to tearing. They also tend to lose their water content, which decreases their ability to cushion the surrounding vertebrae. Age-related deterioration is most common among people over the age of 35.
- Excessive weight — Even if a person is not obese, steady weight gain places extra pressure on the spinal discs, making them more likely to rupture.
- Inactivity — This factor tends to go hand-in-hand with weight gain. When someone does not exercise the muscles surrounding the spine, those muscles lack the strength to help support the spine, which in turn places more pressure on the spinal discs.
- Smoking — Smoking can increase the chances of sustaining a collapsed disc, as the toxins in cigarette smoke can cause spinal discs to become less flexible.
- Injury — A sudden injury (such as a car accident or a fall) can cause the outer walls of a spinal disc to tear.
If you’ve been living with the symptoms of a prolapsed disc, please contact USA Spine Care today. We’ll be happy to help you determine whether you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgeries, which are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.^
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