People who are overweight or obese often complain about having back pain. Also, one thing that most doctors advise chronic back pain sufferers to do is to lose weight. There seems to be a connection between the two. In this article, we will discuss the connection between obesity and back pain and discover some strategies to reduce the discomfort.
How Are Obesity And Back Pain Connected?
The American Journal of Epidemiology’s study has shown that having a high body mass index (BMI) increases the risk of low back pain, which puts the obese population at greater risk. An individual is said to be obese when they have a BMI of 30 or more.
That being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean every obese individual ought to experience back pain. It’s just that they’re at more risk compared to others, or it can make the existing conditions worse. Obesity can lead to back pain in several ways, such as:
- Affects your posture: The natural curves of your spine give you a stable and well-supported core. But when you have excess fat around your abdomen, your pelvis and lower back may tilt forward, altering the natural curve of your spine. This places excess pressure on the spine and nerves in the back, contributing to back pain. The majority of severely obese people experience pain and significant changes in posture, according to a study by Obesity Surgery. These changes in posture can lead to more serious conditions like spinal compression, disc degeneration, and pinched nerves.
- Compresses your discs: Excess body weight can increase the pressure on the joints in your spine, and with time, this pressure can lead to the thinning or bulging of the connective tissue between your spinal bones. It causes severe pain and pinching of the nerves. The discs in your lower back are more vulnerable than the neck discs to the weight load.
- Causes inflammation: The fat in your body produces hormones and other biochemicals that are necessary for the body to function. But when you gain weight, the balance breaks and more biochemicals enter the circulation, leading to inflammation. Over time, these chemicals wear off the skeletal system and increase your risk of chronic pain disorders.
- Damages to the bones: Our bones constantly renew themselves in our body. However, excess body fat can interfere with this process and can lead to a condition called osteoporosis over time. Visceral fat, in particular, has an important role in it. The visceral fat has the potential to lower bone density and increase the risk of bone fractures.
- Interfere treatments: Obesity is said to reduce the drug’s effectiveness in treating health conditions like ankylosing spondylitis, which is an inflammatory disease affecting the vertebrae. Thus, it increases the pain and the recovery time.
Tips To Treat Back Pain
- Lose weight: Losing weight can help reduce pressure on your spine and inflammation in the body, thereby alleviating pain in the lower back. You can opt for weight loss surgery, medications, therapy, or medically supervised diet and exercise programs to lose weight.
- Improve your posture: Doctors recommend standing with our knees slightly bent and placing one foot forward to lower the pressure from the lower back and reduce back strain. Also, while sitting, make sure your hips are placed higher than your knees.
- Stay physically active: Physical activities help to increase blood circulation to the affected areas, decrease inflammation, and reduce muscle tension. Studies show people who continue to do their daily activities after experiencing back pain have better flexibility than those who have prolonged bed rest. Prolonged bed rest can, in fact, lead to further complications. It is recommended to incorporate strengthening exercises, Pilates, and cardiovascular exercises into your daily routine to increase stability in the back muscles and alleviate the pain.
- Eat healthier: Stop having unhealthy foods, like processed and fast food, and foods high in sugar and unsaturated fat. Instead, eat more fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts that are high in fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. By eating healthy, your body gets essential nutrients and energy to stay healthy and help reduce weight and back pain.
If you are overweight or obese, the extra weight you are carrying can place undue pressure on your back and spine, causing extreme pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are ways to ease the pain and reduce the risk of further back conditions. Try the above-mentioned tips to make a difference and live a pain-free life.