Prolapsed disc causes include excess body weight

Excess body weight is a common contributor to prolapsed discs in the neck and back. While most people recognize the potential health concerns of being overweight or obese, they are often surprised to learn about the long-term damage that even a few extra pounds can inflict on the neck and back. That’s because the spinal column is designed to support a certain amount of weight, and additional pressure placed on the spine often accelerates spinal deterioration as people age and can lead to conditions like a prolapsed disc.

How weight contributes to spine conditions

In the spinal column, a number of components work together to support the weight of the body while facilitating the range of motion required from the neck and back. The discs cushion the vertebrae, allowing the spine to bend and flex. The amount of weight and movement the discs sustain puts them under tremendous pressure, which is why age-related disc degeneration is so common. A prolapsed disc occurs when the soft center of a disc pushes through a crack or tear in the tough outer layer that has developed due to the disc drying out. While this can happen to anyone, discs that have the added pressure of supporting excess body weight can be more likely to develop this condition. This is because extra weight, especially in the upper body, adds to the pressure that the discs withstand everyday.

Potential symptoms of prolapsed discs include:

  • Chronic, localized pain
  • Pain that radiates along the length of a nerve
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Diminished reflexes
  • A sensation of pins-and-needles

Treatment options for a prolapsed disc

Typically, when a person is diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, the first step is to attempt to manage the symptoms nonsurgically. For those who are overweight or obese, a treatment plan should involve a weight management program that includes nutritional counseling and an exercise routine. Surgery can become an option if weeks or months of conservative treatments like physical therapy and spinal injections combined with lifestyle changes like weight loss have been unable to relieve symptoms. If you are exploring treatment options for a prolapsed disc, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures, offering our patients advantages like a shorter recovery time.^

We are happy to provide a free MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.