Roughly 90 percent of the population will experience spine-related aches and pains at one time or another. However, this doesn’t mean you just have to accept spine pain as an inevitable part of life. There are many positive lifestyle adjustments you can make that can reduce your odds of being sidelined with ongoing spinal discomfort. One of these changes is losing weight. Here’s a closer look at why weight loss is beneficial for your spine.
Every movement you make places some degree of stress on your spine. The parts affected most are usually within the more mobile lower back area. Luckily, your spine is designed to effectively handle this stress, at least to some extent. However, if you have excess weight, the added pressure could contribute to:
• Lower back pain
• Added stress on the parts of your body that normally take some of the burden off your spine (e.g., your hips, knees, and feet)
• Damage to spinal bones and discs
Spinal discs naturally wear down over time, a process referred to as degenerative disc disease. This process can’t be stopped entirely. Even so, if you’re not managing your weight, the added pressure on your spine’s discs can speed up disc wear. Accelerated disc wear can also contribute to:
• Herniated discs
• Spondylolisthesis (one vertebra slipping over another one)
• Spinal bone wear if worn discs don’t provide sufficient cushioning
Extra stress from weight could also cause spinal discs to shift out of place enough to irritate nearby nerves. If shifted or damaged discs put pressure on nerves, you’ll be more likely to experience a combination of localized and radiating pain—meaning pain felt in nearby areas such as arms, shoulders, and legs—and similar symptoms. Keeping your weight in check, on the other hand, means you’ll be less likely to need a decompression procedure such as kyphoplasty surgery. Beverly Hills patients can avoid this type of surgery by maintaining a healthy weight.
Speaking of surgery, studies suggest patients within a healthy weight range are more likely to respond well to surgery. However, obese patients are more likely to have underlying health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that could contribute to surgical complications. Ask your Beverly Hills spine surgeon about losing weight before you have any type of surgical procedure.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is a progressive disease that can affect spinal joints. According to the American Obesity Association, people with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater are more likely to develop this painful condition than individuals with a lower BMI. Osteoarthritis also increases your risk of experiencing spinal fractures and other types of bone and joint damage related to OA.
Your weight can also affect your recovery period after spine-related surgery. If you know you’ll be having spine surgery in the near future, losing even a small amount of weight could speed up your recovery process by:
• Increasing the circulation of nutrient-rich blood to the surgery site
• Easing stress on healing structures within the affected area
• Making it more likely you’ll stick to post-surgery exercise recommendations
Even if you have existing issues with back pain, getting to a healthy BMI range can be beneficial. Fortunately, there are many healthy, delicious foods that can help you shed unwanted pounds. You have just as many options with exercise, including less demanding possibilities such as walking, water-based activities, and yoga.
Losing weight is one of the best ways to prevent many of the conditions that lead to back pain. If you’re experiencing severe or prolonged back pain, call on the spinal health pioneers at The Spine Institute. Our experienced physicians lead the industry in using the most innovative methods to diagnose and treat back pain so patients can get back to enjoying life to the fullest. To schedule a consultation, give us a call today at 310-828-7757.