Losing weight and spine health

In addition to the more commonly known health risks of obesity, such as heart disease or diabetes, carrying excess weight also adds to the pressure placed on the spine. The spine is built to support the upper body while also protecting the spinal cord as it travels from the brain to the rest of the body. It also needs to be flexible enough to allow for basic movement, which is accomplished with moving parts such as the joints and discs. Carrying excess body weight contributes to conditions like herniated discs or spinal arthritis because it puts extra pressure on these components and speeds up the natural degenerative process.

Whether you are trying to prevent a spine condition or dealing with the pain and symptoms of an existing one, most doctors will recommend a weight-loss plan for patients who are overweight or obese.

Tips for managing weight

Here are some of the commonly recommended guidelines for achieving or maintaining a healthy weight:

  • Stay active. A daily exercise routine helps the body regulate metabolism. 90 minute daily routines of moderate-intensity exercise are typically recommended for weight-loss programs, which should only be undertaken after consulting a physician.
  • Reduce caloric intake. Eating fewer empty calories in your diet such as refined carbohydrates, refined grains and sugar-sweetened drinks often helps to reduce the number of calories taken in by the body.
  • Reduce certain dietary fats. Saturated fats and trans-unsaturated fats are high in calories and contribute to heart disease.
  • Increase unsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood are ideal because this type of fat is considered healthy. Fish is also typically a good source of protein.
  • Increase dietary fiber. This improves digestion and helps with absorption of other key nutrients.

Losing weight is important, but it must not be attempted at the expense of proper nutrition. To ensure personalized and factual dietary advice, it’s a good idea to consult a licensed nutritionist for guidance before attempting a weight-loss program.

Other treatment options for spine health

In addition to lifestyle changes like weight management, many doctors will recommend a course of conservative treatment options upon diagnosis of a spine condition. This includes over-the-counter medication, physical therapy, spinal injections, therapeutic massage and hot/cold therapy. You may start to consider surgery if these options have been exhausted without bringing the relief you need for a good quality of life.

For those considering a spine procedure, reach out to Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery. We are glad to provide a free MRI or CT scan review* to help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.