The Link Between Obesity & Back Pain

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It’s no secret that obesity can cause a wide variety of health problems, but what many overweight people do not realize is that obesity can also cause complications for existing health problems. Specifically being obese poses a big danger to the cardiovascular system because it makes health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure much worse.

The simple fact that a person is obese however, in no way means they suffer from health problems. But any pre-existing medical conditions are often exacerbated by the excess weight. This is especially true when it comes to the knees, ankles and spine. The additional weight carried around by obese individuals adds strain to joints and muscles in the back and the bones of the spine.

Adding more weight than the spine is capable of handling often causes back pain. 

What Is Obesity

We’ve all heard the different colorful terms to describe those who are technically obese. Some of these names are hurtful and derogatory and show a true ignorance to the epidemic of obesity sweeping across the Western world. Obesity is not a measure of fatness, but rather it is a measure of your body mass index (BMI).

A person’s BMI is a measure of their height to weight ratio, not of their overall health or athleticism. If your body mass index is 30 or higher, you fall into the category of obese. Because of the way BMI is calculated not all obese people will have back pain.

Obesity Related Back Pain

If you spent a great deal of your life overweight or obese, degenerative disc disease is a real possibility. The excess weight the spine has to carry will undoubtedly put strain on the vertebrae and the liquid filled sacs between each vertebra. These discs break down due to normal wear and tear over time, but they are likely to deteriorate much quicker when the stress and pressure on the spine is far greater.

This can lead to herniated discs, pinched nerves or a ruptured disc.

Spondylolisthesis occurs when the vertebrae in the spine are displaces when the discs in the back begin to slip. When this happens, the slipped vertebrae may end up pressing on the nerves located in the spinal column. This can occur due to injury or trauma, but obesity can be considered a form of trauma due to the back pain it can cause.

Whether you have been obese your entire life or after the birth of a child or just recent weight gain, it can affect the balance of your body. This in turn can have a negative impact on one’s posture that causes the spine to curve unnaturally. One of the conditions this can cause is referred to as ‘lordosis,’ which is a condition that causes the spine to curve inward.

Fighting Obesity And Back Pain

There are quite a few steps one can take to stop obesity related back pain. The first of which is to make significant lifestyle changes that will help lose weight. Losing even ten percent of one’s body weight can reduce back pain and decrease the severity of other back problems such as sciatica.

A diet that contains fresh fruits and vegetables combined with regular physical activity can not only help you lose weight, but it has been shown to help the blood circulate to the area where the pain is the worse, thereby reducing back pain. This is especially important if you have an inordinate amount of abdominal fat, which causes the body to adapt to make room for it. This imbalance of weight may not correct itself in a way that staves off back pain, in fact often times it does just the opposite.

By exercising regularly you can reduce overall body fat, alleviate back pain and improve your posture. These are all effective methods of getting rid of back pain effectively. If you’ve had difficulty losing weight in the past, work with your nutritionist or dietician to find a diet that works for you.

When you are no longer obese, you can focus solely on diagnosing and healing back pain. 

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