How Back Pain and Obesity Interact

Lower back pain is one of the leading bodily pains affecting Americans today. This issue has been linked to improper posture, spine injuries, and lack of nutrients for bone strength, among others. One of the possible causes for back pain may be obesity. An individual is considered obese when he or she has excess adipose tissue, more commonly referred to as loose connective tissue. In general, once a person weighs over 20% more than he or she should according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), he or she is considered obese. The back pain experienced in an obese individual can be excruciating and intensify over time.

How Obesity Affects the Spine

The chance of an an obese individual experiencing back pain is more likely than that of someone of a healthy weight. This is so, because the excess weight inflicts greater amounts of stress on the lumbar spine. Few parts of the body are affected more by obesity than the back and spine.

The center of gravity for the body is the core. This center of gravity slowly shifts as an individual continues to accumulate weight. This shift pulls the body forward, increasing the potential of back or spine injuries. An obese individual will appear as if he are leaning back when he walks, but that is just the body shifting its center of gravity. This puts immense pressure on the back. The vertebral disk is known to weaken over time but this process is sped up in an obese individual.

A few back and spine issues known to come as a result of obesity include:

How Exercise Helps

Exercise is most important in strengthening weak muscles such as the pelvis, thighs, and back. Through exercise, an obese individual can improve range of motion while alleviating the pressure on joints and tissues. Decreasing the amount of weight carried is the most commonly suggested method for alleviating back pain in obese individuals. In particular circumstances, the weight of an individual may increase the risk of, or even prohibit, the performance of any surgical procedure. The goal of an obese individual is to get to a healthy weight according to the BMI.

The spine issues in an obese individual can become unbearable. If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic back pain due to excess weight, consider having it analyzed by a spine expert. Marc Cohen specializes in minimally invasive procedures and has experience working with individuals in the New Jersey area to seek resolution to their chronic back pain. Contact the Spine Institute at one of our many locations to schedule your appointment today.