Can Excess Bodyweight Cause a Pinched Nerve?

What Causes a Pinched Nerve?

Excess body weight is a leading contributor to the development of a pinched nerve in the spinal column. The spine is an intricately constructed, highly complex arrangement of bones and connective tissue designed to protect the central nervous system, hold the body upright, and allow for basic movement. When a person is overweight, the strain placed on the neck and back is increased, which can accelerate spinal deterioration and the onset of degenerative spine conditions like herniated discs and spinal osteoarthritis which are the chief underlying causes of spinal nerve compression.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, BEST Health System is dedicated to patient-centered care. We want to help you get the information you need about the sources of your neck and back pain. The following intends to help you be a more informed and empowered patient as you seek the lasting relief you deserve. 

How Excess Bodyweight Contributes to a Pinched Nerve?

Since the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots are packed so tightly into the spinal column, it is easy for displaced spinal anatomy to narrow the nerve passageways and cause compression. While the spine conditions that often cause a pinched nerve are typically related to the natural aging process, there are a range of factors that can contribute to or speed up their development. Being overweight or obese can cause a pinched spinal nerve in the following ways:

  • Add to the load being placed on the spinal discs. This can make it easier for them to bulge or herniate and compress the spinal cord or a nerve root.
  • Add to the stress placed on the spinal facet joints, leading to the development of arthritis and the development of bone spurs, which can cause a pinched nerve.

Treatment Options with BEST Health System

Upon diagnosis of a spinal disorder causing a pinched nerve, a course of conservative treatments is usually recommended to relieve the symptoms. Common options include medication, physical therapy, and making appropriate lifestyle changes. Losing excess body weight is one of the most commonly can ease the burden on the spine and lessen the degree of nerve compression. If, for example, a bulging disc is to blame for a patient’s pain, weight loss can relieve some of the pressure on the discs, potentially easing nerve compression and symptoms.
Spine surgery can become an option for a pinched spinal nerve if lifestyle changes and conservative treatments have been exhausted without providing the relief necessary for a good quality of life. BEST Health System offers minimally invasive surgical options to patients seeking relief.