Does Excess Body Weight Lead to Spondylosis?

Understanding Spondylosis

One of the leading causes of spondylosis is carrying excessive body weight. When individuals are obese, or even a few pounds overweight, it can have a negative impact on their spinal anatomy and make them more susceptible to degenerative spine conditions earlier in life. That’s one of the reasons why doctors encourage their patients to maintain a healthy body weight. Not only does having excess body weight put a strain on the heart, lungs, and other organs, but it can also cause chronic back pain and other painful symptoms related to spinal degeneration. Continue reading to learn more about the impact excess weight has on the spine as well as the treatment options available to treat your spondylosis symptoms.

How Does the Spine Support Our Weight?

The spine supports the weight of the body while still allowing for the full range of motion required by the neck and back. However, over time, the anatomical elements that support the spine have a tendency to wear, and one of the areas where these changes are most likely to occur is in the lumbar spine (lower back), which supports the weight of the vast majority of the body. When a person is overweight, the tension placed on this region of the spine is heightened, which can accelerate the strain put on the spine, causing the two main types of spondylosis, including degenerative disc disease and facet disease. 

Degenerative disc disease describes the spinal discs weakening, losing height, bulging, and rupturing as a result of excess weight being placed on the aging spine. Facet disease describes vertebral joints becoming arthritic as a result of the cartilage that lines the joints wearing away due to age and over-exertion, in turn leading to bone-on-bone friction and bone spurs. What’s more, individuals who are overweight tend to lead inactive lifestyles, which causes their core muscles to weaken. This can further increase the risk of spondylosis and other degenerative spine disorders because weakened muscles are not able to provide needed support to the spine.

Treating Weight-Related Spondylosis

Usually, when a person is diagnosed with one of the more common spondylosis conditions, and their body weight is believed to be a contributing factor, a doctor will recommend a healthy, low-calorie diet and a commitment to regular low-impact exercises, such as swimming and biking. If this approach does not provide the results you require, you may begin to consider surgical intervention. 
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