6 Diseases Related to Obesity


Obesity and the diseases associated with it cost a staggering percentage of health care dollars. It is estimated that $168 billion is spent each year in the U.S. alone to treat obesity-related diseases. These diseases include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high cholesterol, gallstones, osteoarthritis and more.

  • Type 2 diabetes is a disease most commonly caused by obesity. Though it used to develop primarily in adults, it is now quite common in children as well, with the recent increase in the rate of childhood obesity. Blood sugar levels become elevated due to the insulin resistance caused by obesity and greatly increase the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Heart disease can develop as a result of fatty deposits building up in the arteries, and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is 10 times more common among the obese than in the population with normal body weight. Fat tissue also requires blood to survive, so more blood vessels are created, putting greater strain on the circulatory system, increasing blood pressure and making the heart work harder to circulate that extra blood.
  • Those who are obese have an increased risk of cancer, especially cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, gallbladder and uterus.
  • Obesity adversely affects both the metabolism and endocrine system, often resulting in metabolic syndrome, the fastest-growing obesity-related health problem. This refers to a group of risk factors that increase your risk of more serious diseases, such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Symptoms include excess weight particularly located around the middle of the body, insulin resistance, low HDL ("good") cholesterol and high triglycerides.
  • Women who are obese can suffer from a number of reproductive health problems, including infertility, uterine cancer and PCOS. Because obesity causes disruption in the menstrual cycle and the endocrine system that is responsible for the delicate balance of hormones necessary for successful ovulation, studies have found that even a modest reduction in body fat of between 5 and 10 percent is often enough to restore ovulation and fertility.
  • Osteoarthritis has grown increasingly common as the rate of obesity has increased. The excess weight adds to increased wear and tear on the joints, particularly on the knees and hips. Obese women are nine times more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee, often leading to the need for a total joint replacement. However, researchers have found that losing as little as 11 pounds can reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis by half.

The increased risks of these six diseases alone are good reasons to lose weight if you are obese. Even losing a little has been shown to have a positive effect on your health, and it can significantly reduce the amount you spend on health care every year.



Chiropractic for Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that is occurring with greater frequency as the population ages, along with the skyrocketing rates of obesity that contribute to osteoarthritis by causing unnecessary wear and tear on the joints. Chiropractic care can help those who suffer from osteoarthritis by realigning the joints so they move properly, slowing their degeneration.

A normally functioning joint moves easily, supported by a cushion of firm, rubbery cartilage that allows the bones to slide smoothly over one another. Osteoarthritis is caused by a breakdown in the cartilage of the joint, which allows the bones to rub together as they move, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling.

It is estimated that 50% of the population over age 55 has some form of osteoarthritis. As a person ages the content of water in the cartilage decreases, hastening its breakdown. Some tissue from the breakdown of this cartilage can be released into the synovial fluid of the joint capsule, causing inflammation. Though any of the body's joints may be affected, the most common complaints are of pain in the knees, hips and hand joints, the ones that bear the greatest load and do the most work.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness and crepitus, which is a term for the clicking or popping sound the joint makes when the ends of the bones in the joint rub together due to an insufficient cushion of cartilage. The first sign you may have osteoarthritis is frequently waking with "morning stiffness" in your joints that gradually improves as the day goes on. Pain may become worse when you are active, improving with rest.

Though there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are things you can do to slow its advance and alleviate the pain. The least invasive treatments involve changes to diet and lifestyle, along with chiropractic care. Eating whole fresh foods and losing weight can take much of the pressure and stress off your joints. In addition, regular light exercise can strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Exercise can also improve range-of-motion, balance and posture. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for those with osteoarthritis, as it allows you to exercise without putting stress on your joints.

A trained chiropractor can use a variety of safe and gentle methods to return your joints to proper alignment, which will help alleviate pain without having to resort to taking excessive pain medications. Studies have shown that chiropractic treatment can increase range of motion, improve joint coordination, relax tense muscles and reduce pain. A chiropractor can also recommend the best exercises and stretches targeted to your specific needs.



What is Degenerative Disc Disease


Degenerative disc disease is misnomer, because it's not really a disease. It is a term that refers to the normal changes in the spine as we age. In particular, it refers to the deterioration of our spinal discs, which are the soft, cushiony discs between our bony vertebrae.

Spinal discs are like shock absorbers, in that they separate the bones and allow the spine to bend, twist, and flex. Degenerative disc disease usually occurs in the lumbar region of the spine (lower back) and the cervical region (neck). It results in

  1. The breakdown of cartilage, also known as osteoarthritis
  2. The bulging of discs, also known as disc herniation, and
  3. The narrowing of the spinal canal, also known as spinal stenosis.

These conditions can lead to pain and nerve problems, due to pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.

The cause of degenerative disc disease is aging. Aging leads to a loss of fluid in the discs, making them more brittle and less flexible. They also become thinner, which brings the vertebrae closer together. In addition, small cracks or tears in the discs may cause leakage of the jellylike material inside. This causes bulging, breaking, or fragmenting of the discs.

Degenerative disc disease does not affect everyone the same way and at the same rate. It is usually worse among smokers and those who do heavy physical labor that taxes the spine. People who are overweight and obese tend to have worse symptoms as well. A sudden injury can also initiate the process of deterioration.

When the discs between the vertebrae get thinner, there is less cushion for the spine and it loses stability. In response, the body generates bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, which can cause pain due to pressure on the spinal nerves. The pain may be felt in the back or the neck, depending on the person and the location of the degeneration. Discs that are affected in the neck region can lead to pain in the arms or neck, while affected discs in the lumbar or lower region can lead to leg, back, or buttock pain.

Your doctor or chiropractor can diagnose degenerative disc disease through the use of a physical examination and a medical history. He or she will look for areas of tenderness, range of motion, pain, numbness, reflexes, and any additional conditions such as fractures or infections. Imaging tests are not particularly useful for degenerative disc disease. Treatment usually includes ice or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest. Stretches and physical therapy are often recommended.