The Role Weight Plays in Your Disc Health

Chances are you’ve had, currently have, or will have back pain during your lifetime, which puts you in league with about 80% of the population. And one of the most common causes is the dreaded herniated disc.

Most people understand that an acute injury can damage a disc, and age-related degeneration can wear one down, but not many realize that simply being overweight contributes to disc destruction as well.

Our team of pain management specialists at Regency Pain & Therapy Institute in Mansfield, Texas sees the effects of obesity on intervertebral discs every day. While many factors are out of your hands when it comes to keeping your spine and your discs healthy, your weight is one you can actually control. Here’s how the numbers on the scale can affect the discs in your spine.

Spinal anatomy 101

Your spine has 33 individual bony vertebrae that stack on top of one another from your tailbone to the base of your skull. They’re held together by a supportive network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and they’re cushioned by intervertebral discs.

These discs have a tough rubber shell called the annulus, which encloses a gel-like center called the nucleus. Under normal wear-and-tear, discs can handle moderate bumps, jolts, and torque. But excess force, like the kind exerted in a sports injury or an auto accident, can rupture or herniate a disc. 

How weight affects your discs

Anything that puts too much pressure on your vertebrae can squeeze your discs and push them past the confines of their normal position between the bones. Your spinal column is a pretty crowded place to begin with, so if you have a disc bulging out the side, chances are high that it will touch, irritate, or compress a nearby nerve or nerve root. 

Clearly, extreme force can cause this type of pressure, but so can carrying extra pounds — it just happens at a slower pace. Day after day, the force from hours of sitting, walking, running, and standing, and even the occasional bumps and jolts, add up, eventually compressing the discs and pushing them out of bounds, tearing the annulus, and causing nerve pain.

That’s why maintaining a healthy weight is critical to the integrity of your spine. You can avoid a weight-related herniated disc by eating a balanced nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and watching your body mass index (BMI).

Hope for your herniated disc

If your herniated disc is a direct result of your weight, the best thing to do is lose weight. But if the damage is already done, we can treat your damaged disc while you’re shedding the pounds. 

Here at Regency Pain & Therapy Institute, we focus on two things: stopping your pain and getting to the root cause of your herniated disc so we can restore full function for good. We also believe that the best course of treatment is often the simplest, so we suggest you take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen as we monitor your herniated disc closely and guide you through targeted physical therapy treatments.

The next level of treatment may include prescription-strength muscle relaxers or anticonvulsants, which ease the pain and discomfort of a bulging disc, as can corticosteroid injections.

If your herniated disc causes severe chronic pain, surgery may be the best answer. We may need to remove part of the herniated disc or perform a rhizotomy, where we intentionally destroy the compressed nerve to stop the pain.

Where to get your herniated disc treated

If you live in the Mansfield, Texas area, there’s no better place to take care of your herniated disc than Regency Pain & Therapy Institute. Our experts successfully treat herniated discs using proven techniques and advanced technology. To learn about our treatments and whether they’re right for you, call us at 817-435-1642, or schedule a consultation online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Are You a Candidate for a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

When all the at-home tricks fail, and even medicine and surgery can’t stop your pain, you may need to override your nerves and stop the pain at its source. Find out if spinal cord stimulation can turn off your pain.

When to Seek Medical Care for Neck Pain

There’s a reason people use the phrase “a pain in the neck” so often — it’s the perfect way to describe things that annoy you and cause discomfort and distress. But it’s more than a cliché. Find out when that crick in your neck needs medical care.

Understanding Spinal Stenosis

Your body is slowly shrinking. As you age, your muscles, heart, brain, and sex organs decrease in size with no consequence. But when your spine narrows, it really hurts. Here’s what you need to know about spinal stenosis.

Immediate Help for Your Whiplash Injury

Car crashes are the most common cause of whiplash, but not the only one. Anything that jerks your head back-and-forth can give you the same pain in the neck, like falling, being shaken, or colliding in sports. Here’s what to do if it happens to you.