Occurring when inner disc material pushes outward, herniated discs can result invarying degrees of pain and discomfort. According to spine surgeons in Santa Monica, the level of herniation can range from mild to severe, but it’s ultimately where the pressure is felt that determines how a patient is treated. When weight issues aggravate the discomfort, making an effort to lose weight could provide welcome relief.
Increasing Back Stress
Excess weight places added stress on the muscles, joints, and bones that support the spine. When it comes to herniated discs, extra weight can facilitate the wear and deterioration of discs located between the bones of the spine. Even though the damage that can occur to these spongy discs is often gradual, extra weight can limit range of motion, which is often necessary to relieve pressure on adjacent nerves.
Limiting Treatment Options
Treatment options can be limited in overweight patients. For instance, anti-inflammatory drugs won’t stop pain resulting from weight-related pressure on muscles. Doctors are likely to encourage a patient to lose weight before going beyond conservative treatments. If a patient does lose weight, such treatments may result in the acceptable management of symptoms.
Added Risks from Weight-Related Conditions
Patients with weight issues often have conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes that can make herniated disc treatments less effective. Losing weight can help control these related conditions to the point where treatments for disc herniation will be more effective.
Easing into Exercise
If you’re not accustomed to regular exercise, seek doctor approval for starting a routine. A physical therapist, fitness trainer, or even a life coach, can provide safe fitness recommendations. If you experience an increase in your pain while exercising, however, stop and see your doctor. Beginner exercises likely to ease pain from disc herniation include:
- Water-based exercises
- Low-impact aerobics
- Core strengthening exercises
Surgery only becomes an option for a herniated disc if pain is severe and not responding to other treatments or when nerve compression results in loss of function. Otherwise, patients should have time to lose weight through a combination of diet and exercise, which can also help increase spinal stability and reduce inflammation.
For more information about treatment options for herniated discs, including lumbar artificial disc replacement, reach out to The Spine Institute for Spinal Restoration by calling (310) 828-7757. Surgery isn’t the right choice for all patients, and we can evaluate your specific symptoms and help determine the appropriate treatment for your individual needs.