The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers obesity to be at epidemic levels in the United States. Increased weight gain among children is also part of the reason why younger people are reporting more instances of recurring or disruptive back pain. A new study suggests severely overweight kids may also be at an increased risk of developing lower back conditions. Beverly Hills spine surgeons discuss these findings.
Body Mass Index and Back Pain
Researchers in New York compared body mass indexes (BMI) with results from MRI scans to look for signs of lower back problems in children. More than half of the participants who had a higher BMI showed signs of having a spinal disorder. Individuals with a healthy body weight showed no signs of back conditions on their MRIs.
Added Weight on Growing Spines
Excess weight in children places added pressure on a spine that’s in the process of developing. Too much stress on a growing spine may increase the risk of developing a spinal deformity or increase pain from an existing abnormality like a sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
Wearing Out Discs Faster
Extra pounds put more stress on the spongy discs that cushion the spine, causing those discs to start to show signs of wear (degeneration) at a much younger age. Conditions like degenerative disc disease (DDD) are statistically more common in older adults. However, if trends continue, degenerative disorders may continue to be seen more frequently in children. Wear-and-tear damage to discs may contribute to:
- Herniated discs
- One disc slipping onto the adjacent one (spondylolisthesis)
- A general weakening of the spine
Habits, both good and bad, developed in childhood often carry over into adulthood. Parents can play an active role in reversing the increased prevalence of back problems in younger people by encouraging their children to watch what they eat and stay active with at least an hour of regular exercise each day.
In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, some children require other methods for addressing their disorders, including minimally invasive spinal surgery. Beverly Hills parents who are concerned about their children’s spine health should get in touch with The Spine Institute Center today. Call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.