SPINE Journal recently released a study which examined the discs heights of people who fall within the traditional BMI brackets of "normal" weight and obese. There is no doubt that when we carry additional weight; it places undue stress on the structures of our musculoskeletal system. However, this is one of the first studies to correlate our weight to actual disc heights.
They found that disc heights of the lumbar spine were in fact reduced in the obese patients when compared to the disc heights of non-obese patients. Interestingly, this held true for segments L1-L5 but not at the lumbosacral junction of L5-S1.
Clinically, they found no particular correlation or causation between the diminished disc height loss and any recent episodes of pain. It is important to remember that consistent (over) load of our vertebral motion segments may very well result in an increase in degenerative changes as time continues to march on.
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