Obesity contributes to many health problems, and back pain is a common complaint for those who are overweight. Back pain can occur in any area of the back, from the neck and shoulders to the lower back. The lower back is the focal point of most research.
More than 80% of Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Total costs for this condition are expected to exceed 100 billion dollars annually with two-thirds of that number attributed to decreased wages and lost productivity.
Researchers believe that rising obesity rates as well as an increase in construction and service industry jobs are logical factors regarding the prevalence of back pain.
The Connection Between Obesity and Back Pain
Obesity contributes to symptoms associated with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis.
The spine is designed to carry the weight of the body and distribute loads both while at rest and while active. The spine must adjust to the burden of extra weight which can lead to structural compromises and damage.
The lower back or lumbar region is the area most vulnerable to the effects of obesity. The inability to exercise causes poor flexibility and weak muscles in the back, pelvis, and thighs. This can increase the curve of the lower back and negatively effects posture. If posture is modified and weakened, other areas of the spine may become painful.
While it is true that the normal aging process contributes to back pain, an additional fact is that if a person is obese, she should anticipate back pain.
Causes of Back Pain
There are a number of different maladies that can cause back pain. If you are obese, you are at increased risk to develop one of the following conditions that cause back pain:
Osteoporosis is when density and bone strength are negatively affected if the body fails to form an adequate amount of new bone or if too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body. It is the most common type of bone disease.
If you have received a diagnosis of osteoporosis, you have probably lost between 25% to 30% of the desired bone density.
Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage that provides cushioning between two joints breaks down and causes pain while damaging the joint. Essentially, arthritis is an inflammation of the joint. It is a chronic condition and is most responsible for disability in the United States. It is estimated that between forty to sixty million people have arthritis.
Natural Back Pain Treatment
The first and most obvious need is to lose weight. Attempt to drop about 10% of your current weight, then reassess. As you explore a program of weight loss, consult with a physician and nutritionist.
Stretch daily and employ proper posture, holding the shoulders back and keeping the back straight.
Strengthen back and abdominal muscles and incorporate some kind of program of exercise into your schedule. Consult a personal trainer or physicial therapist for appropriate exercises. The wrong exercise, or the right exercise done incorrectly, can further aggravate back pain.
Committing to a healthier lifestyle and a much improved diet will lead to better back health over time.
Weight Loss Surgery Relieves Back Pain
If you are morbidly obese (BMI >40) or obese (BMI >30) with a comorbid condition such as diabetes, then you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. Research shows that substantial weight loss from bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery, can relieve back pain, reduce disability, and improve quality of life.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California found that a year after weight-loss surgery study participants reported:
- Low back pain intensity decreased 44%
- Quality of life increased up to 58%
- Disability related to low back pain decreased 24%
The study participants lost an average of 90 lbs one-year after gastric bypass surgery. Patients who lost more weight had greater improvements in pain scores than those who lost less weight.
LiveStrong.com - http://www.livestrong.com/article/79989-obesity-back-pain/ - accessed 8/15/12
PubMed Health - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001400/ - accessed 8/15/12
Spine Universe - http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/back-pain-obesity - accessed 8/15/12
WebMD - http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/news/20090209/obesity-a-pain-in-the-back - accessed 8/15/12
Weight Loss @ Suite 101 - http://suite101.com/article/obesity-and-back-pain-a43527 - accessed 8/15/12
MedPage Today - http://www.medpagetoday.com/PainManagement/BackPain/9243 - accessed 9/3/12
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003, and since that time my journey from processed food junkie to healthy living so as to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management. Whether you are planning or have had bariatric surgery, or you want to lose weight through non-surgical means, my shareposts along the way will help you to navigate your journey successfully.
Published On: September 03, 2012