Causes and risk factors of Lumbar disc Herniation

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Woman growing older from childhood to old age

Age. In many cases, disc herniation is associated with the natural ageing of the vertebral column. In children and young adults, the discs have a high water content. As the body ages, the vertebral discs start to become dry and are weakened. They start to shrink and the spaces between the vertebrae are reduced. This normal process of ageing is called disc degeneration. 

Besides the normal wear that comes with age, other factors can increase the probability of suffering a disc herniation. The risk factors of having a disc herniation can help to prevent these problems in the future.


Gender. Males between 30 and 50 years have a greater probability of having a disc herniation.  

Sweating woman carrying two bags

To carry weights improperly. Using back muscles to lift heavy objects, instead of using the muscles of the legs, can cause a disc herniation. Turning the body whilst lifting an object can also make the back more vulnerable.  

Obesity can be cause and/or risk factor of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Overweight. Overweight increases pressure to the discs of the lumbar area. 

A person carrying a lot of weight

Repetitive activities that overload the vertebral column. Many jobs are physically demanding and constantly require stretching, bending, arching, or twisting. Applying safe techniques to carry and move objects can help protect the back. 


Driving vehicles frequently. To remain seated for long periods with the vibration of the motor of the automobile can increase pressure to the column and discs. 

Sofa with a box of popcorn

Sedentary lifestyle. Doing regular exercise is important for the prevention of many medical conditions, including a disc herniation. 


Smoking. Smoking decreases the supply of oxygen to the disc and causes a more rapid degeneration.   

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Substantiated information by:

José Poblete Carrizo
Salvador Fuster

Published: 29 October 2019
Updated: 29 October 2019

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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