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5 Sad Yet Funny Ways to Herniate a Disc in Springfield, IL

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Chiropractors love to say “spinal discs are like jelly donuts.”

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Spinal discs ARE like jelly donuts. They have a tough, fibrous exterior and a gelatinous interior. As a chiropractor for disc injuries in Springfield, IL, I know that disc injuries like bulged or herniated discs are very common and quite painful. No one wants to get in the way of a person with a herniated disc.

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Our discs act as shock absorbers in the spine, to absorb the stress and pressure that everyday life places on our spine. The jelly, I actually prefer a Boston Creme but we’ll just go with this, is known as the nucleus, a word anyone who went through 7th-grade science should know, and it mirrors our movements to provide balance and force absorption to keep our spine healthy and strong.

When a disc herniates-

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-the gelatinous nucleus ruptures the fibrous outer layer and leaks into the spinal cavity, pressing on nearby spinal nerves. Weakness and pain, often radiating pain, are common during a herniation. It is also possible for the nerves to interfere with the proper function of whatever part of the body that nerve controls.

I always ask my patients what tasks they were performing when the pain started, part of my “leave no stone unturned” consult style, some of their answers might surprise you. Often disc injuries are an accumulation of damage to the discs until one final move is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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I think contextually it’s pretty clear what it means. I’ve compiled my favorites in a lil’ list.

5 Unexpected Ways to Herniate a Disc

Sneezing

There are a lot of different types of sneezers out there. Most of them are not as cute as this guy:

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I hold my sneezes in, due to an unfortunate incident in middle school, which it turns out annoys a lot of people. I think that’s a better strategy than allowing a small bio-hazardous eruption from an otherwise attractive person’s face. People also say that sneezing full out feels good, which is an opinion I refuse to entertain.

Anyway, herniating a disc from sneezing is rare, but it happens. Sneezing doesn’t seem dangerous, unless 6th grade me is asked, but discs that are already degenerated and in poor condition to due things like bad posture, obesity, or manual labor are most susceptible to herniating in this way. In a situation where the herniation isn’t causing pain, the violent action of a sneeze or cough can cause the nucleus to push harder against the nerve, sparking a tinge of pain.

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Shaving Your Legs

I’ve never shaved my legs, but I’ve seen it happen before. In the movies it looks romantic and effortless, but in real life it feels far more primal. Shaving, especially in a wet shower, is difficult. It’s basically an invitation to slip and fall or nick the femoral artery and create a whole host of other problems.

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Bending down, folding up in half, to shave can wreak havoc on the back, especially the part most susceptible to herniated discs – the lumbar spine. Bending too sharply or, God forbid, slipping while bent over, increases the chances of a disc injury. I can’t tell you the number of close calls I’ve had while showering just from getting in and out, let alone bending over and taking a sharp blade to my body. Falling in the shower with a razor can damage the back, the ego, and the tub.

Tying Your Shoes

I tie my shoes using the bunny ear strategy, I never learned how to do it the other way. This is why I wear slip-ons, it’s too late to ask for a tutorial. The simple act of bending over, much like shaving, places significant strain on the lumbar spine, the area of the spine most likely to herniate. Bending too quickly or at the wrong angle can irritate the back, especially if there is a known or unknown preexisting spinal condition.

We’ve got to stop going down to our feet to tie our shoes, let’s bring our feet to us. Instead of bending over, stand up and place the foot on an elevated seat or bench. This will help avoid the strain on the lower back. We shouldn’t have to work so hard.

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Grocery Shopping

A leisurely walk down the bread aisle won’t herniate a disc, but this will:

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Putting the groceries into the cart, then onto the conveyor for check out, then into the trunk, then out of the trunk, up the back porch, onto the ground for a quick potty break, and then into the refrigerator or pantry could certainly do some damage.

Grocery shopping is a fairly safe errand, but our lumbar spines weren’t designed for a Costco haul. And no one in the primary education system bothered to teach us the proper way to lift in gym class, or do our taxes.

Office Work

Sitting around an office avoiding work all day may seem like a life of leisure, but there are some innate physical dangers to working in an office.

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Corporate warriors tend to spend 8-12 hours a day hunched over a computer, rarely getting up to stretch or take a break. The rat race hamster wheel of a 9-5 can instill some pretty bad habits when it comes to posture and core strength. The deterioration of our posture weakens our muscles and destabilizes our spine, making it susceptible to injury. Looking down at a computer all day or swiping through our phone can result in a phenomenon known as Tech Neck. Tech neck changes the structure of our cervical spine and results in neck pain, increased strain on the muscles in the neck and upper back, and herniated discs.

How to Avoid a Herniated Disc

Given that a herniated disc is possible doing the most routine tasks, it sometimes feels like a disc injury is just inevitable.

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A lot!! Prevention is the key and there are many tips for preventing a herniated disc.

Improve Posture

Posture is the window to the spine. We can often tell the status of a patient’s health by their posture. It’s like one of those guys at the carnival that can guess your birthday, except much more useful. Bad posture is an unnatural position and can lead to back pain, joint degeneration, spinal dysfunction, rounded shoulders, poor digestion, and other issues that rely on a healthy spinal cord…which is basically our whole body.

Stretch

Spending the day sitting can compress the lower back and takes a toll on the intervertebral discs, making a herniation more likely. Stretching regularly can help to restore proper positioning and range motion to the muscles and joints.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Not the easiest thing to talk about, but being overweight places more strain on the muscles, joints, ligaments, and systems of the body. It requires the body to work harder to do all of its jobs.

Use Correct Lifting Techniques

  • Keep a wide base of support
  • Squat, lift with the legs
  • Maintain good posture
  • Lift slowly
  • Hold the haul close to the body
  • Use the feet to change direction
  • Lead with the hips
  • Squat to set down

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Exercise Regularly

Exercise is great for our health, we’ve been screaming this at patients for years. It can help strengthen our back muscles to prevent injuries. At the same time, exercises can pose a risk for disc injury, especially if the discs are already experiencing degeneration. It’s important to listen to our bodies and not put them under more strain than they can handle. Continuing to work on core strength will improve our spinal health and ward off injury.

Herniated discs aren’t always caused by the expected. Discs can experience wear and tear from everyday life until one day it becomes too much to handle. We can’t stop shaving, tying our shoes, sneezing, working, or going grocery shopping, but there are many things we can do to stop disc deterioration and lower our risk of herniation.

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Traditional medicine is currently obsessed with opioids and uses them to treat disc herniation. There are conservative disc injury treatment options that are effective at treating the root cause of the problem, helping to relieve symptoms and prevent future injury. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we use chiropractic care to treat people with disc injuries every single day. All-natural pain relief isn’t a fairy tale. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors and let us be a part of the journey to full health. We’ll all be doing cartwheels in the street in no time!

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