I turned over in bed and blew a disc in my low back. My husband says that's not really possible but that IS what happened to me. Can you explain this?
In the first study of its kind, researchers from five hospital-based spine clinics in Boston recently discovered that most disc herniations don't come from lifting (heavy or light) objects. In fact, the majority (62 per cent) have no known cause. The patients say the back and leg pain (sciatica) just came on without warning.
Most people started noticing symptoms while doing normal, every day activities. Examples of non-lifting physical activities as inciting events included vacuuming, bending, reaching, leaning, misstepping, and making the bed. These are all very much like your situation of turning over in bed and suddenly experiencing painful symptoms later proved to be from a disc herniation.
In the Boston study, golf, skiing, and tennis were the most commonly reported sports and recreational activities believed to be associated with disc herniation. Physical trauma from falls or car accidents was listed as the inciting event in only 1.3 per cent of the people.
This finding supports the idea that in many adults, discs donât rupture. Instead, the outer covering called the annulus slowly weakens. Weakening in the protective layer of the disc allows the center portion (the nucleus) to poke through.
So even though someone develops pain after sneezing, coughing, or simply turning over in bed (from what later turns out to be a herniated disc), that final event was like the straw that broke the camel's back. The disc was ready to go and the coughing, sneezing, laughing, or turning one way or the other was just the final physical stress to herniate an already damaged disc structure.
This idea of a spontaneous disc herniation isn't entirely accurate either. Most experts agree that disc degeneration leading up to disc herniation takes place over a long period of time. Repeated loads on the spine combined with the effects of aging are probably the real culprits. It's likely that there are some hereditary factors involved as well.