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What are the most common causes of herniated disks?

This article looks at what a herniated disk is and what the most common causes of herniated disks are.

Having a herniated disk is an extremely painful experience that happens when the soft discs that cushion the spinal column tear or are pushed out. A herniated disk is often referred to as a slipped or ruptured disk. While herniated disks are not uncommon, many people are unaware of what actually causes them. Below is a look at some of the common causes of herniated disks and whether regular wear and tear or a sudden accident are more likely to lead to a herniated disk.

What is a herniated disk?

First, it is important to understand what a herniated disk actually is. The spinal column consists of a stack of individual bones, called vertebrae, and between each vertebrae is a layer of cushion, which is the disk. The disk itself is composed of a jelly-like interior that is surrounded by a tougher exterior.

As Spine Universe points out, a herniated disk occurs in four steps. The first is degeneration, when the jelly-like interior begins to dry out and weaken due to age. When degeneration happens, the disk is less able to withstand sudden movements. Next is prolapse, when the disc begins to shift or bulge and then comes extrusion, when the jelly-like interior begins to break through the harder outer wall of the disk. The last stage is sequestration, when the jelly-like interior of the disk moves outside of the spinal column.

What causes herniated disks?

As shown above, the disk naturally weakens with age and with wear and tear. That means that a herniated disk can happen to anybody, especially those who are in physically demanding jobs, such as construction or maintenance workers. As the Mayo Clinic points out, weight and genetics are also factors in herniated disk development.

However, that does not mean that all herniated disks are simply a result of age, lifestyle, or occupation. An accident can also lead to a herniated disk, especially if the disk has already undergone some degeneration. The sudden movement involved with a car accident, for example, can be too much of a shock to the weakened disk, which may result in the disk rupturing or slipping. When that happens, the pain can be so intense that surgery may eventually be required.

Personal injury law

For those who have been hurt in an accident, it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The costs associated with an accident can be high, especially if physiotherapy, medication, surgery, or other medical care may be required. A personal injury attorney can assist clients with filing claims, thus maximizing their chances of successfully receiving the full compensation they may be entitled to.