The 7 Most Important Decisions You Can Make to Avoid Back Surgery (Part 3/7)
Decide to get Skinny
Of course, we live in a society of great abundance and it shows in so many negative ways. We suffer from alarming obesity rates mainly because we carry thrifty genes. These thrifty genes helped our ancestors survive times of extreme famine by storing excess food as fat on our bodies. Unfortunately, these thrifty genes work against us in times of tremendous abundance like we have today. This excess fat ,of course, adds excess pressure on our knees, hips and low back. If you have ever been to a gym, just try to imagine carrying a 50lb weight with you each and every day. Exhausting to say the least! Now, imagine carrying a 100lb weight with you each day. Almost, impossible to imagine but so many people carry this weight around with them each day. Many people suffer from back pain because of this excess weight.
When People choose to lose weight, they typically incorporate an exercise regimen. This exercise will strengthen muscles around the core and help to support the spine. Exercise itself has been shown to have profound psychological benefits. Clearly, as people lose weight, they start to feel better about themselves and the psychological boost can further improve pain. It is well established that depressed people experience pain with greater perceived intensity than people in a good mood. Weight loss can not only boost one’s psychological outlook but the spillover effect can raise one’s self-esteem and people with higher self-esteem tend to carry themselves with a more erect posture. An erect posture will put the spine in a more natural alignment and further help to diminish pain in the lower back.
From a purely mechanical perspective, it is easy to see the damage that excess weight can have on our spine and discs like an overloaded truck with the tires of the truck bulging from all the excess pressure. However, it is a little more complicated than that. Daily excess pressure from excess weight leads to uneven, mechanical pressure on the discs and facets leading to degenerative disc disease and arthritic facet changes. How? Well, excess weight in the belly area will result in an excessive compensatory lordotic curve of the lumbar spine to stay balanced when standing upright. This excessive lordotic curve puts uneven pressure on the posterior elements of the spine such as the posterior discs, posterior vertebral endplates and facet joints. In time, these posterior elements will wear excessively leading to arthritic changes such as facet hypertrophy and disc tears or ruptures. This uneven mechanical load is the reason that it is pivotal to lose this excess baggage and strengthen the core to keep the spine in good anatomical alignment.
The excess weight is easy to comprehend from a mechanical standpoint, but excess adipose tissue also leads to a proinflammatory state in our bodies. Scientists have now shown that the extra adipose tissue that we carry around with us is actually a large endocrine gland secreting a variety of hormones. One of the hormone classes that is secreted causes a proinflammatory state in the body leading to chronic illness in our organs and can worsen arthritis, which is simply inflammation of the joints. On a daily basis, I talk to many women who weighed about 105 lbs in high school but now weigh 50 to 75 lbs extra in their mid-40s. Every year their weight would slightly creep up. Of course, we can make many excuses like stress eating, no time to exercise, and slow metabolism, but the physics and physiology of this extra weight will not really accept any excuses. The added pressure on the spine and excessive inflammation of the joints will take its toll.
We can all avoid a lot of unwelcome medical issues and surgeries by shedding excess weight and making the decision to get skinny. To do this, we need to adopt some lifestyle changes that focus around food. Eating less processed foods and cutting back on your dependence on sugar will point you in the right direction. I decided to get very serious about weight loss once I started to develop back and knee problems. After I lost 45 lbs, my back and knee problems improved dramatically. Make the decision to get skinny. It will take mechanical stress off your back, reduce inflammation in your body and help you to avoid all types of surgeries including back pain treatment. If you would like to learn more about the weight loss programs that we offer at Carolina Sports and Spine, please contact us to learn more.
(Please always consult with your physician before starting any diet or exercise regimen.)
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