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Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

Lumbar Disc Outcomes Worse in Obese

By January 12, 2013

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The discs of the spine are the soft cushions that separate each vertebrae.  These soft discs can develop problems including wearing out, becoming inflamed, or herniation--pushing back against the spinal cord and spinal nerves.  When these problems develop, back or leg pain may result.

Treatments of lumbar disc problems may include both non-surgical or surgical options.   Unless there are significant signs of nerve damage, most patients will try non-surgical treatments first, and reserve surgery for symptoms that don't improve.

A recent study has looked at different aspects of patients who have lumbar disc problems, and which of these factors seem to influence the results of treatment.  One finding was that obese patients had worse outcomes, regardless of treatment type.  It didn't seem to matter if the treatment was surgical or non-surgical, patients who were obese had worse results no matter what they did for treatment of their lumbar disc problem.

Sources: "The Influence of Obesity on the Outcome of Treatment of Lumbar Disc Herniation"

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