Causes of a pinched spinal nerve — excess body weight

Excess body weight is a leading contributor to the development of a pinched nerve in the spinal column. The spine is an intricately constructed, highly complex arrangement of bones and connective tissue designed to protect the central nervous system, hold the body upright and allow for basic movement. When a person is overweight — even by just a couple of pounds — the strain placed on the neck and back is increased, which can accelerate spinal deterioration and the onset of degenerative spine conditions like herniated discs and spinal osteoarthritis that are the chief underlying causes of spinal nerve compression.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute is dedicated to patient-centered care. We want to help you get the information you need about the sources of your neck and back pain. The following is intended to help you be a more informed and empowered patient as you seek the lasting relief you deserve. You can also contact our team for more information about your condition and the treatment options available.

How excess bodyweight contributes to a pinched nerve

Since the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots are packed so tightly into the spinal column, it is easy for displaced spinal anatomy to narrow the nerve passageways and cause compression. While the spine conditions that often cause a pinched nerve are typically related to the natural aging process, there are a range of factors that can contribute to or speed up their development. Being overweight or obese can cause a pinched spinal nerve in the following ways:

  • Add to the load being placed on the spinal discs, making it easier for them to bulge or herniate and compress the spinal cord or a nerve root.
  • Add to the stress placed on the spinal facet joints, leading to the development of arthritis and the development of bone spurs, which can cause a pinched nerve.

Pinched nerve treatment options include weight management

Upon diagnosis of a spinal disorder causing a pinched nerve, a course of conservative treatments is usually recommended to relieve the symptoms. Common options include medication, physical therapy and making appropriate lifestyle changes. Losing excess body weight is one of the most commonly suggested methods because it can ease the burden on the spine and lessen the degree of nerve compression. If, for example, a bulging disc is to blame for a patient’s pain, weight loss can relieve some of the pressure on the discs, potentially easing nerve compression and symptoms.

Spine surgery can become an option for a pinched spinal nerve if lifestyle changes and conservative treatments have been exhausted without providing the relief necessary for a good quality of life. As a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures,^ Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive spine surgery that can be performed on an outpatient basis.

To learn more, and to receive your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team today.

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