Understanding the Connection Between Obesity and Back Pain

obese woman with back pain as she tries to stand up

According to the National Institute of Health, 2 in 5 adults are classified as obese.

Obesity has become a growing problem worldwide, and its health implications are well known. From an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease to its direct ties to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, obesity can negatively affect your health and well-being in many ways.

One of the lesser-known effects of obesity is its impact on the musculoskeletal system, specifically the spine.

The excess weight puts additional strain on the spinal column and can lead to chronic back pain.

In this blog post, we will explore the connection between obesity and back pain and look at ways to manage this condition in further detail.

Obesity and Lower Back Pain

There is a strong correlation between obesity and lower back pain.

The spine is designed to carry a certain amount of weight, and when it is overloaded due to excess weight, it can lead to various conditions that cause pain.

In particular, excess weight can cause a bulging or herniated disc, which occurs when the outer layer of the disc ruptures, causing the inner material to push out and irritate the surrounding nerves. This can cause intense pain and can limit mobility.

Obesity can also cause spinal stenosis, a condition where the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This can lead to pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs.

The Tie Between Obesity and Pain Management to Reduce Back Pain

Although many people want to find the fastest solution to their back pain with pain medication, pain management for people with obesity is a complex issue.

Traditional pain management methods, such as medication and physical therapy, may not be as effective for people with obesity.

Medications used to treat back pain can have side effects and may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions.

Physical therapy can also be challenging, as it may be difficult for people with obesity to move and exercise without exacerbating their pain.

Before you begin a pain management regimen involving medication or physical therapy, it is best to speak with a bariatric specialist to understand your options.

Tackling the Root Cause of Obesity Through Weight Loss and Pain Management

While pain management through medication may seem like the best in-the-moment option, weight loss is one of the most effective ways to manage back pain caused by obesity.

Losing weight can reduce the pressure on the spine, alleviating pain and improving mobility.

However, weight loss can be challenging for people with obesity, and it may require significant lifestyle changes, such as dietary modifications and increased physical activity.

If weight loss is a struggle for you, especially after changes in diet and exercise, you may want to consider bariatric surgery to lose weight faster and more effectively.

Other Back Pain Management Options for Those Living With Obesity

In addition to weight loss, physical therapy, or pain medication, there are other pain management options for people living with back pain and obesity, including

  • Low-Impact Exercises: Activities such as swimming, cycling, and walking can help improve mobility and reduce back pain.
  • Massage Therapy: Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation, alleviating pain.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture effectively reduces pain, but more research is needed to determine its effectiveness for people with obesity.
  • Weight Loss Surgery: Bariatric surgery, such as a gastric sleeve, can help with weight management and effectively treat back pain by reducing the pressure on the spine caused by excess weight. This can lead to a reduction in pain and an improvement in mobility.

Expert Weight Loss Care for Obesity Is Here

You don’t have to live with obesity and back pain forever.

Obesity and back pain are closely linked, and people with obesity need to understand the risks and take steps to manage their pain through effective weight loss.

Beltre Bariatrics offers a variety of weight loss options to assist you in losing weight and keeping it off for good.

Contact our team of bariatric experts today to schedule your initial consultation and determine if weight loss surgery is right for you.

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