Back pain: Obesity damages the intervertebral disc

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If you are overweight, the risk of spinal disc damage is twice as high

Intervertebral disc problems and back pain occur twice as often in overweight people as in slim people. This has now emerged from a large-scale study by the University of Hong Kong. According to a current estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.5 billion people worldwide are now overweight. Experts call for more information about back disorders and better treatment options for patients.

Overweight risk factor: Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and back problems Overweight is considered a risk factor for numerous diseases, including diabetes, heart attack and stroke, but also knee and hip problems. According to the study, it has now been scientifically proven that intervertebral disc problems are also part of the consequences of obesity (severe overweight).

As part of one of the largest studies on back health and weight, doctors led by Dino Samartzis examined 2599 women and men from different social classes. Whether they suffered from back pain or not was not taken into account, as was the economic background of the test subjects. The study participants were 42 years old on average. The scientists first identified the "Body Measure Index" (BMI), which is used as a number to assess weight in relation to body size. In addition, the spine of each subject was examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Slightly more men suffered from intervertebral disc degeneration The study shows that 73 percent of the subjects suffered from intervertebral disc degeneration. The proportion of men was slightly higher than that of women. As expected, back damage increased with age. Dino Samartzis reports: "In addition, our investigation showed that a high BMI goes hand in hand with a pronounced disc degeneration." He pointed out that in particular the end stage of the degeneration, when there is so much wear on the disc that the spaces between the vertebrae are narrowed considerably are, obese concerns. In the end, the scientists came to the conclusion that the risk of such a back disease is twice as high for obese people as for normal weight people.

Experts call for more information and better therapies According to WHO estimates, the demand from experts for more information about back illnesses and their consequences, as well as better treatment options, sounds obvious for 1.5 billion obese people. But what can everyone do for their back health? First of all, a balanced diet is a prerequisite for a healthy body. There is also a sufficient amount of exercise. According to a recent study from Taiwan, 15 minutes a day would be enough to extend life expectancy by up to three years.

In addition to the back school, Tai Chi is particularly beneficial for a healthy back. “Tai Chi exercises are predestined to relieve the back. By strengthening the legs and opening the pelvic area and the hip joints, the upper body and thus the back is relieved. In addition to the correct alignment of all joints, the Tai Chi player learns to sink. This skill increases the relief of the spine. I have some students who only started tai chi chuan after their herniated disc. These reports consistently report the noticeable relief of the back and the improvement in body awareness, which helps them to avoid unfavorable postures, ”reports Nils Klug, Tai Chi teacher from Hanover.

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA are also calling on politicians to do something about the increasing spread of obesity worldwide. For example, levying additional taxes on unhealthy foods and drinks could be helpful. Advertising for unhealthy foods should also be regulated, the researchers said. (ag)

Also read:
Disc herniation: too many operations
Sports for back pain
Back pain is the most common cause of sick leave
Gardening without back pain
Back pain exercises
Doctors: Naturopathy relieves back pain
Being overweight shrinks the brain

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Video: Overweight and Back Pain Connection

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