Sneaky ways to cause yourself spinal damage and back pain!


A herniated disc is a common and debilitating condition affecting the spine and surrounding muscles. It occurs when the soft material in the center of a vertebral disc bulges out of place and puts pressure on the surrounding nerves. The pain and discomfort caused by a herniated disc can be unbearable and can greatly impact a person's quality of life.

Many causes of a herniated disc exist, but most people associate the condition with heavy lifting, sudden movements, or a traumatic injury. However, there are four unexpected ways a person can herniate a disc, which may surprise you.       

  • Poor posture

Many people are unaware of poor posture's impact on the spine and surrounding muscles. Prolonged sitting in a chair with poor posture can put immense pressure on the lower back and cause the discs in that area to become damaged or herniated. Similarly, standing for extended periods with poor posture can also lead to disc herniation. We want to be clear, posture, in general, is not as big of a deal as we were once taught. However, long-term, sustained poor postures are unhealthy and can lead to issues. Sustained poor postures are common in drivers, desk workers, dental workers, teens on their phones, and gamers sitting in front of a TV for hours on end.       

  • Chronic coughing

Coughing is a natural thing, but for people who suffer from chronic coughs, repeated movement can cause the discs in their spine to become herniated. The force of the cough can put pressure on the discs, leading to damage and herniation. A research paper in 2020 concluded, "Abrupt cough may result in dynamic overloading and pressure shifting from the center towards the periphery of the intervertebral disc, which explains the mechanism of abrupt disc herniation in postinfectious cough"(1)      

  • Unbalanced weight

Carrying an unbalanced weight or a weight that is unevenly distributed throughout the body can also cause a herniated disc. For example, carrying a heavy bag or backpack on one shoulder can put uneven pressure on the spine, leading to a herniated disc under the wrong conditions.      

  • Smoking

According to, "For long term smokers, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports an association between the number of packs per day smoked X # of years as a smoker is directly related to the development of herniated disc, as well as the progression of spondylolisthesis, an earlier onset of inflammation, and decreased functioning and quality of life. While smoking likely works its “black magic” on many of the spinal structures, discs, in particular, take a heavy toll."

Not to mention that smoking makes a person cough and, well, we already covered that part. 


What steps can be taken to avoid a herniated disc ·     

  • Maintain good posture: Avoid slouching or sitting in one position for extended periods. Move regularly. Sustained poor postures are a no no.      

  • Exercise regularly: Engage in physical activities that strengthen your core and improve flexibility, such as yoga or Pilates.  A sedentary lifestyle is terrible for you low back discs.     

  • Avoid heavy lifting inappropriately: If you need to lift heavy objects, use proper lifting techniques, such as bending at the knees and hips rather than the back. Keep your low back straight like you have a long lightbulb taped to it and you can't break it. In addition, make sure you are keeping the object close to your body and your center of gravity.      

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts additional pressure on the spine, leading to a higher risk of herniated discs. ·     

  • Practice good sleeping habits: Use a supportive mattress and pillow to maintain proper alignment and reduce strain on your back. Not to mention to get some good rest.     


While these four unexpected ways to herniate a disc can be concerning, a chiropractor can help. Chiropractic care may include spinal adjustments, massage therapy, and physical therapy to help relieve pressure on the affected disc and promote healing.

A chiropractor can help by providing non-invasive treatments to alleviate pain and improve function. A chiropractor can also guide exercises and lifestyle changes to prevent future disc injuries.

In conclusion, disc herniation can be caused by various unexpected factors, but with the help of a chiropractor, it can be managed and treated effectively.

If we can help you, call us at 806-355-3000. When it comes to disc pain, we have non-surgical and highly effective treatment available. Our medically integrated team can make a huge difference and do it quickly. 



(1) Alkhuja S. Cough Radiculopathy: Postinfectious Cough-Related Acute Lumbar Radiculopathy. Case Rep Med. 2020 Aug 13;2020:2360854. doi: 10.1155/2020/2360854. PMID: 32855637; PMCID: PMC7442997.




Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP, FMS is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals, Certified in Functional Movement Systems, expert witness in personal injury cases, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast ( Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at

Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020 & 2021. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.  


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Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP

Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP


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