Can Obesity Cause a Bulging Disc?

What Causes a Bulging Disc?

Excess body weight is one of the most common bulging disc causes. This is because the burden of carrying additional body weight increases the strain placed on the neck and back, which can have a profound impact on the discs that normally cushion and support the spine. As a result, individuals who are overweight and experiencing bulging discs or other similar conditions are often advised to shed excess pounds as part of their initial treatment regimen.

The Anatomical Makeup of the Spine’s Discs

In many ways, spinal discs act like the body’s natural shock absorbers. These thick spongy pads separate adjacent vertebral bodies but are also highly flexible, which gives the neck and back the necessary range of motion. The trouble with the discs, however, is that they have a tendency to deteriorate over the years — particularly in the neck and lower back where the segments of the spine support significant body weight and have a wide range of motion. When a person is overweight, the spine is responsible for supporting even more body weight than intended, which can overburden the discs and lead to potential problems. 

Common Bulging Disc Symptoms

A bulging disc occurs when pressure on the disc causes it to swell beyond its normal boundaries between the vertebrae. The condition can be entirely asymptomatic, but when a bulging disc interferes with or irritates a neighboring nerve root, the following symptoms can occur depending on the location of the problem:

  • Chronic local pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Pain that radiates along the length of the nerve
  • A feeling of pins-and-needles
  • A sensation of heat in the hands or feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue

Surgery with BEST Health System’s Dr. Keith Girton

BEST Health System is a modern ambulatory center dedicated to helping patients find spine and orthopaedic solutions. Whether patients are searching for conservative therapies or surgery, we can help. Dr. Keith Girton is a spine surgeon with BEST Health System, specializing in minimally invasive procedures. This allows patients to enjoy a faster recovery and smaller incisions, all on an outpatient basis. 

Contact BEST today to learn more about bulging disc surgery with Dr. Keith Girton.