Your spine has 33 bones, called vertebra, which are stacked one on top of another. Sandwiched between each of the vertebra is an “intervertebral disc”. The “intervertebral disc” is a piece of cartilage that acts as cushion for your spine. A common analogy for the disk is a tire that is filled in the middle with gelatin.
The outer lining of the disc is the “annulus”. The gelatin like inner substance is the “nucleus”. Generally for the first 30 or so years of your life the “nucleus” or gelatin stays nice and cushy. As you age the “nucleus” starts to become flatter and less flexible. As is becomes less flexible and flatter your chances of injury increase.
Occasionally the gelatin or “nucleus” can push through the outer lining of the disc. When the gelatin pushes through the disc it can cause a herniation (bulge) or rupture (tear).
Bulged or herniated discs are most common in the neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine). There are several factors that can cause the disks in the low back to become damaged and give you problems.
Your risk for developing a herniated disc increases due to:
Herniated discs are most common in those between 30-55 years old. It is less likely to have a herniated disc after 50 because there is less fluid in the disc.
The more you weigh the more compression you put through your spine. The more compression the more likely you are to have a bulge.
Jobs that involve repetitive tasks and are physically demanding increase stress. Repetitive lifting, pushing, pulling, and twisting need to be done with good mechanics.
4. Low levels of physical activity
The less you are active the less your spine and discs are able to tolerated the stress you put on them.
5. Movement Patterns
Like occupation, how you move matters. Knowing correct movement patterns will help decrease stress on your spine.