The most common causes of facet syndrome, or spinal osteoarthritis, can be traced to natural degenerative changes that occur within the spinal anatomy. However, several factors, including excess body weight, are known to contribute to the development of this condition and aggravate symptoms when facet syndrome does occur.
This is because extra pounds can unduly strain the spine, which must continually work to maintain proper body mechanics, including alignment, posture and balance.
The role of excess body weight
The facet joints serve the important function of connecting adjacent spinal vertebrae to provide the body with stability, flexibility and a wide range of motion. Excess body weight, particularly in the abdominal region, can pull the spine forward, causing an individual to lean backward unnaturally in order to be able to maintain an upright posture. Over time, the resulting forward lumbar curvature can disproportionately stress the spinal components. As a result, the facet joints can become overburdened and their natural age-related breakdown can be accelerated.
Also, if a person has an existing spinal condition that is not yet causing symptoms, such as the beginning stages of facet syndrome, significant weight gain could potentially exert enough stress on the spine to cross the pain threshold and create uncomfortable symptoms. It’s important to note that once pain develops, tissue breakdown and spinal degeneration have already occurred.
Of course, facet syndrome can and does develop in people who are not overweight, but being overweight or obese is a serious enough risk factor for this and other spine conditions. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy body weight to protect the spine from excess strain and injury as well as promote overall health and wellness.
Seeking medical help
Regardless of the causes of facet syndrome, if the resulting neck or back pain is unresponsive to rest and over-the-counter pain medications or persists for more than a week, it’s best to seek the advice of a doctor who can assess the effects of excess body weight and also recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Surgery is generally seen as a last resort for this condition, but it can become an option in some cases where lifestyle changes have been made, conservative treatments have been exhausted and symptoms are seriously disrupting everyday life. If you are in this situation, please contact USA Spine Care to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery.
We are happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.
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