Obesity herniated discs can occur due to increased structural stress on the spine. Being overweight is one of the primary anatomical factors responsible for causing and exacerbating back pain. However, the agony of back pain is still kind compared to the many serious and often life-threatening health consequences of being height/weight disproportionate.
Herniated discs and degenerative disc disease are both known results of being overweight. Meanwhile, in morbidly obese people, structural spinal issues are almost universally found, often including multiple significant intervertebral abnormalities and an increased risk for symptomatic versions of osteoarthritic change in the vertebral column.
This exploration takes a look at the risks associated with obesity when it comes to the spine. We will focus on the increased incidence of herniated discs found in overweight patients and also explain the reasons why these disc problems occur in direct response to the stress of extra body weight.
Occurrence of Obesity Herniated Discs
Experiencing intervertebral desiccation and herniation is considered a normal part of the aging process for most people. This “normal” disc bulging generally occurs most often in the mid to lower levels of the neck and the lowest levels of the lumbar spine. These are, after all, the areas that involve the most spinal movement and therefore also suffer the most deterioration of the spinal spacers.
Obese people usually demonstrate more structurally severe forms of intervertebral bulging, herniation and rupture at these expected levels of degeneration. However, many overweight individuals also suffer other areas of intervertebral deterioration and herniation that are not typically found in height/weight proportionate people. Many obese patients demonstrate multiple significant herniations that are often deemed causative for their current expression of back, neck or sciatica pain and other related symptoms.
It is well-known that herniated discs rarely are the exclusive cause of pain. However, in cases of particularly severe intervertebral abnormalities, the odds of experiencing a truly pathological disc condition increase substantially. In obese patients, we have definitively found there to be some correlation between the amount of excess weight and the chances of suffering from a truly symptomatic herniated disc, especially in the lumbar spinal zone.
Obesity Contributes to Herniated Discs
Being overweight increases overall stress on every area of the spine, not just the weight bearing regions. Excess weight acts on the vertebral column through many different mechanisms, including any or all of the following negative factors:
Obesity can increase or decrease spinal curvature in particular regions of the backbone. Since all lordotic and kyphotic curvatures are inter-related, the overall curvature of the spine will be affected over time; not just areas bearing the brunt of the weight. Changes in spinal curvature are known to be major causes of intervertebral degeneration and herniation, osteoarthritis and spondylolisthesis.
The actual load placed on weight-bearing spinal levels can literally crush the intervertebral spacers over time. Excess weight accelerates the disc desiccation process and increases the chance of severe intervertebral rupture, extrusion and sequestration.
Obesity places great general constitutional stress on the entire body, decreasing the effectiveness of the body’s natural reparative and restorative processes that might help to minimize spinal damage in healthier people.
Obesity is a leading cause of vertebral compression breaks in the spine, which are known to lead to related intervertebral disc problems in the levels above or below the fracture.
In addition to the risks noted above, obesity creates many far more serious health issues and is now rated as the single most damaging wellness factor a person can demonstrate in life. In essence, by being obese, a person is increasing their risk of death or serious health condition more than any other single lifestyle-related factor.
Growing Epidemic of Obesity Herniated Discs
Obesity is on the rise, despite the growing warnings of its universal dangers. In much of the world, obesity is rated as the leading contributor to lethal health problems, while in virtually every developed, and many developing countries, obesity is ranked a top 5 health crisis concern.
We know that most herniated discs are not symptomatic and should not cause chronic back or neck pain. However, we also know that some disc conditions are fully responsible for causing pain and by demonstrating multiple serious disc abnormalities, such as fully collapsed discs, a person greatly increases their risk of suffering structurally-based symptoms that might require drastic medical intervention.
This point leads us to the fundamental problem with treating weight-enacted disc conditions. No matter what type of care is rendered, including the most invasive surgical techniques, the problem is likely to continue or recur if the patient remains obese. In fact, many of the best surgeons we know refuse to operate on obese disc surgery candidates, since they know that a cure is virtually impossible to achieve while the excess weight remains.
It is vital that people take responsibility for their health and this means keeping their weight in a range that is considered proportionate to their height and build. We understand that this is a major challenge for many people, but there is help in the form of medical treatment, fitness training, nutritional counseling and other holistic interventions that can decrease body mass and exponentially improve overall health and longevity. We highly recommend that any overweight patients reading this do everything in their power to regain control of their anatomies and can virtually guarantee that losing weight healthily will decrease pain, increase functionality and provide many other mind and body benefits.
As with any back or neck pain sufferer, finding relief starts with you. Taking control of your weight and life is a great place to begin the journey back to good health and less pain. If you need help with obesity herniated discs, please consult with your doctor to get advice on the best practices that can transform your body and reduce your pain, possibly allowing you to bypass dangerous drugs and surgical therapies in favor of health-improving natural self-healing that can only come from an energized, and not exhausted, anatomy.