Risk factors are things that increase your risk of having a herniated disc. Some risk factors you can change, and some you can't.
Risk factors that you cannot change
- Getting older.
- Being male.
- Having a history of back injury, previous herniated disc, or back surgery.
Risk factors that you can change
Your job or other activities. These may include:
- Long periods of sitting.
- Lifting or pulling heavy objects.
- Frequent bending or twisting of the back.
- Heavy physical exertion.
- Repetitive motions.
- Exposure to constant vibration (such as driving).
- Not exercising regularly, doing strenuous exercise for a long time, or starting to exercise too strenuously after a long period of inactivity.
- Smoking. Nicotine and other toxins from smoking can keep spinal discs from absorbing all the nutrients they need from the blood, making disc injury more likely. Smoking also increases your sensitivity to pain.
- Being overweight. Carrying extra body weight (especially in the stomach area) may put additional strain on the lower back, although this hasn't been proved. But being overweight often also means being in poor physical condition, with weaker muscles and less flexibility. These can lead to low back pain.