Degenerative joint disease causes — excess weight

Degenerative joint disease, which is also known as osteoarthritis, is a term used to describe the wearing away of the cartilage that lines the joints of the body. In a normally functioning joint, cartilage serves as a buffer between the connected bones, reducing friction and helping them to glide smoothly across one another.

While this is primarily seen as an age-related condition, there are other contributors as well, including body weight. Carrying extra pounds can put pressure on the joints that accelerates their deterioration, potentially leading to painful and debilitating symptoms. Gaining a better understanding of the causes and symptoms of degenerative joint disease, including weight, is a great first step in both the treatment and prevention of this condition.

How body weight causes spinal joint degeneration

The spine is responsible for supporting the upper body while remaining flexible enough for movement. Maintaining a healthy weight is so important because any extra weight can place more stress on the spine, especially moving parts like the discs and joints. Under greater stress, the cartilage between the spine’s facet joints can deteriorate more quickly, potentially causing symptoms like:

  • Stiffness or soreness near the affected area
  • Localized pain in the area of deterioration
  • Radiating pain that travels along a nerve to the extremities

These symptoms can vary in intensity and in location, depending on where the affected joints are located. Degenerative joint disease occurs most commonly in the cervical (upper) spine or the lumbar (lower) region. This is because these two areas of the spine are flexible and support the weight of the torso and head.

Diet and exercise can help

Whether you have been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease or are trying to prevent it, working with your doctor to develop a weight management plan is important. Proper nutrition and regular exercise can both improve your health and maintain a healthy weight that takes pressure off the spinal joints.

If symptoms related to spinal arthritis ever do develop, they can often be successfully managed with conservative treatments like rest, anti-inflammatory medication, massage and physical therapy. Surgical treatment can become an option if conservative treatments are exhausted with providing the relief needed for normal activity.

If you are considering surgery but have concerns about the risks and difficulty of a traditional open spine procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery. By using muscle-sparing techniques like a less than 1-inch incision, our board-certified surgeons+ are able to perform these procedures on an outpatient basis. To get a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to us today.