Excess Body Weight: One of the Causes of Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal stenosis can occur at any level of the spine, and there can be several contributing causes. In most cases, the narrowing of the spaces between the vertebrae can be traced back to the common underlying cause known as aging. While aging and the spinal deterioration that accompanies it are unavoidable, the damage that the spine sustains as the body gets older can be exacerbated by excess body weight. Someone who falls above the advised weight range for their height is placing more pressure on the individual components of their spine, including the discs that cushion the spine and the joints that allow the vertebral bones to glide past each other. That can mean an accelerated decline in the overall health of the spine.

Damaged intervertebral discs and foraminal stenosis

The discs of the spine absorb the constant pressure exerted when the body bends, twists or turns, but they can become more brittle due to age and excess body weight. When the outer, tough wall of the disc becomes cracked, the inner, gel-like portion of the disc can bulge outward, causing the disc to protrude beyond its normal space. A ruptured or bulging disc can cause foraminal stenosis.

The acceleration of osteoarthritis

Excess body weight can also contribute to foraminal stenosis by accelerating the onset of osteoarthritis in the spine. Although the main sign of osteoarthritis — the wearing away of cartilage — is largely determined by genetics and growing older, carrying extra pounds doesn’t help. After the cartilage deteriorates, the joints of the spine can experience increased friction, promoting the development of rounded bony growths called bone spurs. Those protrusions can also jut into the foraminal spaces and potentially interfere with the nerves that run through it.

To learn more

If you’re experiencing the symptoms that accompany foraminal stenosis — whether they were spurred by excess body weight or other factors — your physician will likely advise that you begin a regimen of conservative treatments to address your pain or weakness. In the event that these approaches don’t help, surgical intervention may be an option. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about the minimally invasive spine surgeries that we perform.