Collapsed disc causes — excess body weight

Weight is one of the main collapsed disc causes. That’s because the burden of carrying around additional body weight takes a toll on the parts of the spine, accelerating the degeneration of the joints and discs especially. Years of added pressure can cause the discs to lose height, eventually leading to conditions like bulging, herniated and collapsed discs.

The good news is that compared to factors like aging and genetics, body mass is something a patient has more control over. By taking steps for a healthy, active life and proper weight management, it is possible to decrease pressure on your discs and potentially prevent this condition. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with a collapsed disc, taking steps to lose excess body weight may help to relieve symptoms.

Spinal discs and weight

In the spinal column, the rubbery discs serve an important function of absorbing shock, which help the vertebrae smoothly bend and flex. Each disc features a tough outer wall that gives the disc its shape and inner disc material that gives the disc its height and flexibility. A collapsed disc occurs when the outer layer flattens enough to lose its normal shape. This can cause narrowing of the already tight nerve pathways, leading to a number of symptoms, including:

  • Local, chronic pain
  • Nerve pain
  • A sensation of pins and needles in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue

The reason that excess body weight tends to lead to bulging, herniated and collapsed discs is because the strain of this extra weight is transferred to the discs. For people who live a sedentary lifestyle this effect can be more pronounced as extra body weight is combined with weak core muscles.

Treatment options

In many cases, the symptoms of a collapsed disc can be managed conservatively with a course of doctor-recommended nonsurgical methods. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, hot/cold compresses and physical therapy can all be effective. Perhaps most importantly, weight management steps like restricting calories, eating a nutrient-rich diet and getting regular exercise can improve your overall health as well as the health of your discs.

If, however, you do not see the results you’d expect from this approach, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, resulting in less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time when compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

Learn more by contacting our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.