Common herniated disc causes — unhealthy weight

Patients diagnosed with a herniated disc may be recommended to change some lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, to help reduce the pain caused by the herniated disc. For some patients, that advice is confusing. What does weight have to do with a herniated disc in the spine?

Actually, excessive weight is one of the most common causes of a herniated disc. The spine is responsible for supporting and stabilizing the majority of the body’s weight. If the body has excessive weight, the spine is under more pressure than it should be, causing the vertebrae of the spine to compress under the extra weight. As the vertebrae compress, they squeeze the disc found in between each set of vertebrae. If a disc is squeezed hard enough, the inner disc jelly will break out of the disc and leak into the spinal canal. This is a herniated disc.

Avoiding the problem

Usually when a physician warns about obesity, the focus is placed on the life-and-death health problems that can be associated with maintaining an unhealthy weight, such as heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and other similar issues. Yet, the strain placed on the spine by carrying around excess body fat is also a significant consideration.

If you are overweight and you are experiencing pain in your lower back, you could be in the beginning stages of a herniated disc or other spine conditions related to excessive weight. The lumbar spine (lower back) is the biggest support of the body’s weight, so any indication of a beginning spine condition due to obesity will like be noticed in the lower back. Consult your physician if you begin to experience chronic back pain. Your physician may recommend a physical therapy regimen or exercise and diet to begin treating your condition. Many mild forms of herniated disc respond well to these conservative methods of treatment.

To help avoid this problem, make sure you maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle. An active lifestyle will help to strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine which can help relieve some of the pressure off of your spine. Consult your physician for more information about your healthy weight goal and some exercises to strengthen your core muscles.

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