Add an increased risk of experiencing back pain to the growing list of health-related issues associated with excess weight. Defined by the National Institutes of Health as having a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or above, obesity often results in an added strain on muscles and joints that support your spine, especially the lower back.
Increasing the Burden on Your Back
Your spine is naturally designed to evenly distribute weight as you move throughout the day. Extra weight places an uneven burden on parts of your back and can make it difficult to maintain a good posture. Excess weight can also affect discs between your vertebrae, which may lead to disc herniation.
Added Osteoarthritis Risk
Extra pounds can increase your risk of conditions like osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that can weaken your spine. Once you develop OA, you may reach a point where exercise becomes difficult due to the pain you’re experiencing with your joints, although a physical therapist may be able to recommend a modified routine.
Complications with Back Surgery
If back surgery becomes an option, the extra weight can increase your chances of experiencing complications. You may also experience difficulties with healing or issues with the formation of a successful fusion if you have spinal fusion surgery to correct instability. Being overweight may also reduce your available options. With artificial disc replacement, for instance, many doctors and insurance providers tend to prefer patients who are in otherwise good health prior to surgery.
Finding a Healthy Balance
It’s pretty much universally agreed that diet and exercise can play an important role in keeping your back healthy and strong. Achieving a healthy balance starts with safe weight loss at a pace that’s right for you and adopting an appropriate exercise routine tailored to your capabilities.
If you are significantly overweight and suffering from persistent back pain, talk to a board-certified doctor. You may be referred to a dietician and other specialists for help in putting together an effective diet and exercise plan.
To learn more about effective treatments for back pain, reach out to The Spine Institute Center. Our team of experienced Los Angeles spine surgeons can discuss your specific situation and provide you with possible pain-relief options, including conservative, non-surgical options. Call (310) 828-7757 today and schedule a consultation.