Annular tear causes — excess body weight

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for the development of an annular tear. The spine is constructed to support the upper body and protect the spinal cord while remaining flexible enough for movement. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on the spinal column, which becomes less able to withstand this pressure as age-related degeneration sets in.

Although no one can avoid the natural aging process, weight management is one of the ways you can reduce the amount of pressure being placed on your spine. The following information can help you better understand an annular tear and make lifestyle changes to potentially either prevent or relieve this condition.

What is an annular tear?

An annular tear refers to a tear in the wall of a spinal disc, which can cause inner disc material to push through the tear and into the spinal column. With age, our bodies dry out, including the spinal discs that provide cushioning to the vertebrae. As they become more dry and brittle, cracks and tears can develop in the disc’s outer layer, called the annulus fibrosus. An annular tear is not necessarily painful, but ruptured or herniated inner-disc material can cause local irritation, or put pressure on surrounding spinal nerves.

Weight management for annular tear treatment

In most cases, when a patient is diagnosed with an annular tear, a course of conservative treatments will first be recommended. If weight is determined to be a factor, a physician may recommend:

  • Healthier food choices, including lower calorie and nutrient-rich foods
  • Low-impact aerobic exercise like walking or swimming
  • Attending yoga, Pilates or other stretching classes
  • Limiting alcohol consumption to promote a healthier spine

However, if lifestyle changes in combination with treatments like physical therapy and pain medication do not improve symptoms, spine surgery can become an option. If you have concerns about the risks and difficulties of a traditional open neck or back procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery. By using a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, we can offer an outpatient procedure with a shorter recovery time compared to traditional hospital-based open spine surgery.^

To learn more, reach out to us today. We’ll be happy to provide you with a no-cost review of your recent MRI or CT scan* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.