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Can Herniated Discs Cause Height Loss?


1.4 - Does-a-Herniated-Disc-Make-You-Shorter

A herniated spinal disc (also known as a “slipped disc” or “bulging disc”) can contribute to an assortment of symptoms, although none of the more common symptoms involve height. Still, it is only natural to wonder if a herniated spinal disc could make you shorter. It is possible for a herniated disc to make a person shorter, although it is not typically very noticeable. This article explains how your height could be affected by a herniated spinal disc.

Minimal Height Loss 

Unless you have multiple herniated discs, height loss is likely to be practically unnoticeable. At the most, you might lose an inch in height over time from a herniated spinal disc. However, you could lose a bit more height if you have multiple herniated discs, although this is rare.

Age as a Factor

Degenerative disc disease is a term used to describe the age-related wear and tear that often affects older adults. It is also a factor that can play a role in how spinal discs affect height. This is more likely to be the case if you have an age-related condition like arthritis or a bone condition like osteoporosis. In this instance, you could have noticeable height loss, since bone density is affected, which can contribute to herniated discs coupled with damage to spinal joints and bones.

Reducing the Risk of Height Loss Due to Disc Herniation

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent the age-related damage to spinal discs that can lead to herniation and height loss. These include:

• Drinking more milk and eating dairy products more often
• Getting regular exercise
• Watching your weight
• Keeping an eye on your posture
• Drinking plenty of water to keep your spinal discs healthy

In general, these same steps can be taken to keep spinal discs healthy enough to prevent or reduce the risk of herniation at any age. It can also be helpful to talk to your doctor about spinal disc concerns sooner rather than later. Addressing disc-related concerns early increases your odds of responding well to
herniated disc treatment while also reducing the risk of further herniating the affected spinal disc.

Preventing Height Loss if Surgery Is Necessary

More often than not, it is possible to manage spinal disc pain and related symptoms without surgery, which reduces the risk of losing any additional height. A physical therapist can also help you strengthen the muscles that support your spine. Physical therapy gives spinal discs additional support, including the disc that is herniated. This also reduces the risk of experiencing a further loss of disc material if the herniation worsens.

However, efforts are made during surgery to remove as little disc material as possible to prevent a loss of function. This is also an effective way to preserve spinal height. There is also the possibility of having an artificial disc inserted if a damaged disc needs to be removed entirely.

If you have a herniated disc that is not responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy may be discussed and potentially recommended. Although this is generally a very successful procedure, having a large hole in the outer ring of the disc more than doubles the risk of needing another operation. A new treatment, Barricaid, is a bone-anchored device that closes this hole, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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