The health-related risks linked to excess weight have been well documented and researched. With chronic back pain, especially pain stemming from a herniated disc, carrying around extra pounds can place added stress on nerve roots. If surgery is something you’re planning soon to remedy spine-related pain, it’s worth considering some of the reasons why maintaining a healthy weight may give you better results.
Reduced Complication Risks
Making an effort to maintain a healthy weight can reduce the risk of complications, as evidenced by a study of elderly patients who underwent lumbar spinal fusion surgery. The study involving seniors who were either obese, morbidly obese, or within a normal weight range found that those who fell within the first two categories experienced more complications. All participants were evaluated during the first 90 days following spine surgery. Obese or morbidly obese patients were:
- More than twice as likely to have a wound infection
- 32 percent more likely to have at least one major complication
- More than twice as likely to have their surgical wound reopen
Shorter Hospital Stays
Being mindful of your weight prior to spine surgery may mean a shorter hospital stay. According to one estimate, obese patients stay in the hospital about 4 days longer than non-obese patients. In the study involving senior spine patients, those who were morbidly obese also had a longer hospital stay, a higher readmission rate after being discharged, and incurred nearly $10,000 in extra medical expenses than those within a healthy weight range.
Better Management of Underlying Health Issues
Watching your weight prior to spine surgery can also make it easier to manage underlying health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. If conditions like this aren’t sufficiently controlled, you may be at an increased risk for bleeding and have difficulty healing.
With spinal fusion surgery, Los Angeles patients may discover the fusion doesn’t form as well if the tissues near their spine are inflamed due to preexisting health issues. Medications needed to manage weight-related issues may also cause potential problems with post-surgery prescriptions.
Eligibility for Minimally Invasive Procedures
Minimally invasive procedures involving the use of special instruments and smaller incisions can reduce your recovery time and risks during surgery. To be eligible for such procedures, patients usually have to be otherwise healthy, which often applies to weight. Other factors will also determine your eligibility for minimally invasive procedures, although maintaining a healthy weight can make it more likely that you will be a candidate.
If you have extra pounds to lose before your spine surgery, Los Angeles doctors can determine the safest way to achieve this goal. Working with a dietitian or trainer may be helpful as well. Developing healthy eating and exercise habits prior to surgery can also make it easier to participate in post-surgery physical therapy and stay active after your recovery.
When managing chronic back or neck pain, it can be challenging to lose excess weight. Get in touch with The Spine Institute in Los Angeles to learn about exercises that are easier to perform while living with chronic pain. We specialize in a variety of fusion procedures as well as many spinal fusion alternatives. Los Angeles residents don’t have to live with chronic spine pain. Learn how you can find relief by calling 310-858-7757 and scheduling an in-person evaluation.