Facet disease causes — excess body weight

Excess body weight commonly causes facet disease, which is a term for spinal osteoarthritis. That’s because the burden of supporting additional body weight can put more pressure on the spine, accelerating wear and tear to the parts that support the neck and back. While this means those who are overweight are at a higher risk for developing this condition, the good news is that weight management is something most patients have more control over when compared to causes like age and genetics.

By learning more about facet disease and exactly how excess weight contributes to this condition, you can have a better understanding of how weight management can support either the prevention or treatment of facet disease.

What is facet disease?

Facet disease is a type of osteoarthritis that affects the joints in the spine, which are known as the facet joints. These hinge-like structures are extremely important because they not only connect adjacent vertebrae, but also allow for range of motion that is required from the spine. In order to be both strong and flexible, the joint is coated in cartilage and covered in a lubricating, synovial fluid. Facet disease describes the instance when the cartilage wears away, allowing bone-on-bone contact within the joint. This can cause:

  • Inflammation
  • Local, chronic pain
  • Nerve irritation
  • Popping and creaking sensations
  • Development of bone spurs

What role does body weight have in osteoarthritis?

Since it is primarily an age-related condition, facet disease can potentially affect anyone, but there are many risk factors that increase the chance of someone developing the issue, including weight. The burden of supporting excess weight increases the strain on the spine, which may accelerate the deterioration of vertebral cartilage.

While there is no reversing the onset of arthritis, there are many steps that can be taken to help manage its symptoms. For instance, Individuals who are diagnosed with facet disease are often encouraged to start a weight management plan involving a nutrient-rich, low-calorie diet and regular exercise. To help with symptoms and reduced mobility, doctors may also recommend physical therapy, massage, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections.

Surgery can become a consideration if weeks or months of conservative treatment options don’t bring relief. If you have anxiety about the prospect of undergoing a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery offers our patients less risk of complication along with a shorter recovery time compared to traditional procedures.^

For a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.