In addition to factors like aging and injury, carrying extra weight is one of the leading causes of a torn disc. This condition occurs when the outer layer of a spinal disc develops a tear, and while it doesn’t always cause symptoms, a torn disc can be very debilitating if it does. It’s important to learn about weight as a factor for torn discs because patients are able to manage this factor. By learning more about how carrying extra weight affects spine health, you can have a better understanding as you partner with your doctor to develop a weight management plan.
The effects of extra weight on the spine
The spine — particularly the lumbar region — is responsible for supporting much of the body’s weight while stationary or in motion. The spinal discs sit between the vertebrae in the spinal column and absorb much of this pressure. However, being overweight can place more stress on these discs than they were designed to withstand through every twist and bend of the spine. After years of this extra pressure, the discs can be more vulnerable to breakdown or rupture.
If you’re looking to reduce your risk of developing a torn disc, losing weight is a good step. While an effective weight-loss plan will be different for everyone, there are some commonly recommended guidelines:
- Eat a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet
- Reduce carbohydrate intake
- Get regular exercise
You should always talk to your physician before making a significant change to your diet or beginning a new workout program. Not only will losing weight take pressure off your spine, it will also contribute to improving your overall health. For patients already diagnosed with a torn disc, weight management is also recommended as a way to improve symptoms because it can potentially relieve pressure being placed on a compressed spinal nerve.
Torn disc treatment
If you have already been diagnosed with a torn disc and conservative treatments like pain medication or physical therapy aren’t improving your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery. At USA Spine Care, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery that has many benefits compared to traditional open neck or back procedures. Using muscle-sparing techniques, our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis with lower risk of complications and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery.^
To learn more, and to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, contact USA Spine Care today for a no-cost MRI review.*
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