Excess body weight can lead to arthritis of the spine

Carrying extra body weight can contribute to a range of health problems, including spine conditions like arthritis. Like the other joints in the body, the spinal facet joints degenerate with age. Inflammation occurs when the cartilage and fluid that lines the joints and enables smooth motion wear away, causing increased bone-on-bone contact.

While aging is irreversible, there are many factors that can accelerate joint deterioration, including weight. By learning more about how managing weight can have both preventive and treatment benefits, you can work better with your doctor to develop a plan to regain your healthy, active lifestyle.

Weight management and other treatments for spinal arthritis

The spine is critical in both protecting the spinal cord and supporting the upper body. It also must be flexible enough to bend and twist, but this combination of weight and movement puts an enormous amount of pressure on the joints. Any extra weight on the upper body only adds to the stress the joints endure every day and can lead to arthritis developing more quickly than it should.

This is why doctors so often recommend weight management to both prevent and treat conditions like arthritis of the spine. Not only can losing weight slow down the development of arthritis, but it also takes pressure off the spine if it has already been diagnosed, potentially relieving symptoms. Here are some of the typical ways a patient can manage their weight and live a healthier lifestyle:

  • Eat a nutrient-rich, low-calorie diet
  • Engage in regular, low-impact aerobic exercise
  • Also perform exercises, like Pilates, to strengthen core muscles

If spinal arthritis is causing pain and mobility problems a doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, injections, massage therapy and alternating use of ice packs and heating pads.

If surgery becomes an option

You may be asked to consult with a specialist for surgery if lifestyle changes and conservative methods are exhausted and everyday activity is still difficult to impossible. Before undergoing a traditional open neck or back procedure, learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery by contacting Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons+ use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, resulting in an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.

We offer a no-cost MRI review* that can determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.