Between each vertebra is a cushioning disc that protects your back and spinal nerve. While herniated discs, or slipped discs, are fairly well understood, the causative factors in any given case may be difficult to determine. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most people can’t pinpoint the exact cause of their herniated disk.” However, nearly all herniated disc problems can be boiled down to a few causes that seem to be responsible.
Excessive strain. Safe lifting procedures are strongly stressed in work environments that involve heavy lifting and in organizations that promote public health. One of the primary reasons for this is that improperly lifting heavy loads can lead to a herniated disc, and this kind of injury is the culprit in a very large portion of cases. Being overweight or obese carries similar risks to your back.
Secondary injury. Especially with herniated discs that occur in the cervical spine (neck area), the cause may have been due to an injury such as an automobile accident. Whiplash or direct trauma can result in these types of herniated discs.
Congenital defects. In rare cases, herniated discs are caused by a defect in the disc itself or the surrounding structures that has been present since birth. For instance, malformed vertebrae can cause a herniated disc or put you at a higher risk for disc problems. These cases are rare, but are especially important to be aware of if there’s a family history of herniated discs early in life that are not related to known injuries.
Age-related deterioration. Over time, the tissues that make up the spinal discs deteriorate, along with other tissues in the body. In addition, certain diseases or disorders can cause problems with the disc tissues that can lead to disc hernia. Age-related problems generally appear between the mid-30s to about the mid-40s, so it’s a good time to be on the alert for unexplained pain. Bear in mind that since nerves all over the body radiate from your spinal nerve, pain that manifests itself in the hands, feet or elsewhere may still be related to back issues.