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A number of things can cause bulging discs, ranging from degenerative spinal diseases to age. Some of the potential causes are within control of the individual, while others are not very easy to prevent, although taking good care of the body and keeping an eye on spinal health can minimize the risk of developing this condition. In the event that a bulging disc does occur, a doctor should be consulted to discuss treatment options, as spinal conditions can become problematic if they are ignored.
Doctors differentiate between bulging discs and herniated discs, but lay people often use the terms interchangeably. In both cases, the discs of soft material which normally cushion the vertebrae become displaced, leading to a protrusion of the disc from the spine. Herniated discs are characterized by a rupture of the tough outer membrane, which causes the soft material inside to bulge out, while bulging discs remain contained, but they are at risk for herniation. Some people have bulging discs and don't know it, while others experience pain as the disc presses on their nerves. Treatments for this condition vary, depending on their location and the severity.
One of the biggest risk factors for bulging discs is age. As people get older, their bodies lose elasticity, and the membrane which covers the soft material inside the disc may become weak, allowing the disc to bulge out. Older people are also more prone to tears in this membrane, also because of the loss of elasticity.
Degenerative diseases are another leading cause of this condition. A lot of strain is put on the spine throughout someone's lifetime, and if a degenerative disease emerges, as is common in elderly people, this can put the discs in danger of bulging or becoming herniated.
Strain on the back can lead to bulging discs. Some classic causes include stressful jobs which involve a lot of bending and stooping, any career which involves heavy lifting, and jobs in which people are on their feet for extended periods of time. In all of these cases, discs can become severe problems if people persist on working through the pain, as the strain can increase the bulge, or lead other discs to start bulging as well.
Height appears to be a risk factor, with taller people being more prone to bulging discs, and weight can also become an issue, as weight puts strain on the spine. Doing exercises which promote core strength and spinal flexibility seem to help with prevention, as does eating a healthy diet which is rich in vitamins and minerals, as this can prevent or slow the onset of a degenerative disease.
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