Florida Pain Medicine is a rotation site and teaching facility for USF Health ACGME Pain Medicine Fellowship and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency.

The Link Between Obesity and Low Back Pain

The Link Between Obesity and Low Back Pain

For every pound of body weight you gain, you add stress to your lower back. The extra weight causes chronic spine conditions, aggravates existing problems, and can result in debilitating low back pain.

Losing weight is vital for restoring a healthy back, but before you begin a weight loss program, it’s important to protect your back by getting care from the spine experts at Florida Pain Medicine. They help you regain an active life with individualized care that eases the pain.

Here, they explain the connection between body weight and back pain and discuss how they can help you lose weight without aggravating your back pain.

Body weight directly affects your back

Your spine has several jobs and one of them is supporting your body, no matter how much it weighs. Putting on extra weight has a significant impact on your spine and causes back pain by:

Increasing back pressure

For every one pound of weight you gain, your lower back bears four additional pounds of pressure every time you take a step. And if you run, that one pound places eight extra pounds on your back.

The extra pressure places incredible stress on your spine and its supporting muscles and leads to degeneration in spinal tissues. As a result, you end up with problems like herniated discs and/or spinal osteoarthritis, conditions that cause severe back pain and pinched nerves.

Altering spinal alignment

When excess weight builds up in your stomach, it affects spinal alignment. Your spine changes its position (posture) to compensate for carrying extra belly weight, and that places significant stress on your lower back. Poor posture leads to muscle strain and spasms and accelerates degeneration in the spinal joints.

Extra weight increases inflammation

Your body fat produces and releases several hormones and biochemicals, including substances that trigger body-wide inflammation. As you gain weight and cells store additional fat, levels of these inflammatory biochemicals increase. The inflammation alone can cause back pain. It also contributes to degenerative conditions in your spine.

Easing your back pain

Losing weight significantly relieves your back pain. To successfully drop the pounds and keep them off for the long run, you need to consistently limit your calories, follow a nutrient-rich diet, and get regular exercise.

In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise improves low back pain by improving flexibility and strengthening the spine’s supporting muscles. However, you shouldn’t jump into an exercise program before getting an evaluation, for two vital reasons.

First, your pain may arise from a back condition that will worsen with certain activities. And second, getting exercise isn’t easy — and may be impossible — when you have back pain. We can help with both issues.

During your evaluation, we identify problems in your spine, recommend a treatment plan, and help guide your exercise program.

As pain management specialists, we’re experts in minimally invasive interventional therapies that ease your pain, giving you the ability to participate in exercise therapy.

A few examples of interventional treatments include:

These therapies are effective because they target specific nerves. An epidural steroid injection eases your pain by reducing nerve inflammation. The other procedures block pain signals traveling through nerves. Your pain diminishes when your brain doesn’t get the message.

If you struggle with back pain, call Florida Pain Medicine, or book an appointment online today.

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