Three common causes of a prolapsed disc

A prolapsed disc is another name for a herniated disc, which is a disc that has torn open and allowed the inner nucleus to protrude into the spinal canal.

For many patients, a prolapsed disc is considered a degenerative spine condition. That means the disc has herniated as a result of the natural aging and weakening of the spine over the years. Because this is a condition that occurs with time, there are many steps that can be taken to help prevent or slow the development of a prolapsed disc.

Before you can take preventative measures against developing a prolapsed disc, you must understand the most common causes of this condition.

Prolapsed disc cause #1 — age

This one is hard to avoid. We all age, and with that age comes the natural weakening of the discs and vertebrae of the spine, as well as the core muscles that help support the spine.

As the discs wear down, the tough outer layer of the disc, called the annulus fibrosus, can begin to weaken and lose its elasticity. When the elasticity in the outer layer stretches, the disc has a difficult time holding its shape or snapping back into shape after moving and bending. Eventually, the annulus fibrosus becomes so weak and stretched that any slight pressure can tear it, causing a prolapsed disc or herniated disc.

Prolapsed disc cause #2 — weight

This prolapsed disc cause is a little easier to avoid. One of the most common, controllable reasons for a damaged disc in the spine is weight gain, and that doesn’t necessarily just include obesity. Even small, steady weight gain over the years can increase pressure on the discs in the spine, making them more susceptible to damage.

Since these discs are responsible for spacing and cushioning the vertebrae of the spine, excessive weight gain can result in an increased amount of pressure on the discs. This can ultimately lead to the tearing of the annulus fibrosus, which is classified as a prolapsed disc.

Prolapsed disc cause #3 — weak core muscles

Another potentially preventable cause of a prolapsed disc is weakened core muscles. This cause is closely tied to weight gain. The core muscles surrounding the spine help support and stabilize the spine, even taking pressure off the spine to decrease the risk of developing a degenerative spine condition.

If these core muscles are weak, they cannot help support the spine. Therefore, the body’s weight rests solely on the spine, increasing the risk of a disc becoming damaged or prolapsed.


To learn more about the causes of a prolapsed disc or the treatments available for patients diagnosed with this condition, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our team can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.