Back Pain and Obesity

You are here

Are you overweight and experiencing back pain? If so, your weight may be to blame. When it comes back pain and obesity, for many patients the two go hand in hand. In fact, studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between those who have been classified as obese and an increase in back and joint pain.

So what does this mean for you? If you are suffering from back pain, it may be time to shed unwanted pounds. In many cases, your provider may recommend weight loss prior to undergoing treatment, such as surgery, because not only can extra weight exacerbate back pain, you may not be a candidate for surgery unless you lose some weight prior.

The Relationship Between Back Pain and Obesity

When a person is carrying around added weight, it can put a strain on their back and joints, specifically the intervertebral discs. For patients who have curvature of the spine, or scoliosis, extra pounds could make the curvature even more pronounced, increasing pain. Additionally, the risk of injuring the back increases due to the strain placed on it by the added weight. For these reasons, back pain and obesity tend to go hand and hand.

Weight Loss Prior to Surgery

No matter the type of surgery you are suggested to undergo, it is always important to go in to the procedure as healthy as possible — even if you are undergoing a minimally invasive procedure. Below are reasons why a surgeon may suggest weight loss prior to back surgery:

  • Added weight may be a hindrance to recovery
  • Extra weight can cause breathing issues or heart problems, both of which can make surgery riskier
  • Anesthesia use may be riskier

Additionally, undergoing weight loss may result in the disappearance of pain all on its own without intervention, saving the patient the expense and recovery time.

Tips For Weight Loss in Patients with Back Pain

For patients who are suffering from back pain, it may be difficult and painful to exercise. Additionally, patients who are obese may struggle with fatigue and shortness of breath making exercise that much more difficult. However, exercise is an important part of spine and back health, as well as crucial for losing weight. The very best way to protect your back, joints and muscles is by exercising regularly. Therefore, it you are overweight and ready to start an exercise regimen prior to back surgery, here are a few low impact exercises to try that are easy on the back but effective for weight loss:

  • Swimming: Now that temperatures are warming up, swimming laps in an outdoor (or indoor!) pool is a great, low impact exercise
  • for weight loss.
  • Walking: Whether it is a stroll around the neighborhood or a fast-paced walk around your favorite lake, walking is a great way
  • to increase your heart rate and burn calories.
  • Yoga: Easy on the body and good for the mind, yoga is a perfect workout for people with back pain. In fact, incorporating
  • stretching into your workout can help to strengthen muscles, decreasing back pain.
  • Dancing: This activity is not only fun, but a great workout. So put on your dancing shoes and start sweating off the weight.

Prior to beginning an exercise program, we suggest you get approval from your spine surgeon or doctor. Your provider can help you devise a plan to protect your back and ease into exercise.

Learn More

If you are suffering from back pain and obesity, contact EmergeOrtho: Foothills Region today. Our providers will evaluate your condition and recommend treatment options to relieve your pain once and for all.