Did you know that your spine supports about half your total body weight? It’s true! Your spine is a complex structure that protects the nerves inside your spinal cord and supports your entire upper body so you can stand upright.
The adult spine consists of 24 vertebral bones, with 23 vertebral discs sandwiched between them. These discs are naturally durable. They absorb shock and cushion the bones of your spine as you move through life. But sometimes discs can herniate (break open).
A herniated disc is one of the most common causes of back pain, nerve pain, and limited mobility. Anyone can suffer a herniated disc, and certain factors may increase your risk of this common injury — including your body weight.
Peter Le, DC, and our team at Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center, Inc. believe that spine health and overall wellness are interconnected. We specialize in comprehensive spine care, and we’re here to help you understand more about promoting better spinal health.
How your weight affects your spine health
Body weight is a complex combination of genetics, preexisting health conditions, lifestyle habits, and more. Your weight is influenced by a number of factors, and in the same way, your weight influences your overall well-being too.
About 75% of American adults are overweight or obese, and carrying extra weight can impact your body in a variety of ways. Since your spine supports about half your weight when you sit and stand, your body weight directly affects your spine health.
When you’re overweight, your spine carries more weight too. Over time, this stress can lead to damage to the vertebral discs of your lower back. If your vertebral discs suffer damage, your risk of a herniated disc increases.
Although body weight affects your health, it’s important to remember that your weight isn’t a complete indicator of your overall health. Talk to Dr. Le to find out if your weight could be impacting your spine health.
Assessing your risk of a herniated disc
Extra body weight may put increased pressure on the vertebral discs of your lower back and increase your risk of a herniated disc, but weight isn’t the only risk factor.
Other common risk factors for disc herniation are:
- Frequently lifting heavy objects
- Genetic factors
At your appointment, we evaluate all the factors contributing to your risk of a herniated disc, so we can make recommendations tailored to your needs.
Finding treatment for your herniated disc
If you find yourself with herniated disc pain, Dr. Le and our team offer comprehensive care to relieve symptoms and support healing.
We start with a physical exam and a thorough review of your symptoms. We may order medical imaging or nerve testing to confirm a diagnosis and inform our treatment plan. In most cases, nonsurgical care is effective for herniated discs.
Some of the most common treatments we recommend are:
- Spinal manipulation
- Ultrasound therapy
- Spinal decompression with DRX 9000™
- Epidural injections
We partner with you throughout your herniated disc treatment to ensure it’s effective. Depending on your risk factors, we work with you to make lifestyle changes to support better spine health.