Would losing a few pounds help my back?

man-stomachLow back pain (LBP) is extremely prevalent:

  1. Every year half of all workers in the US say they have LBP.
  2. Her the US over $50 billion of our health care dollars are spent on back pain.
  3. It is believed that 80% of us in the US will suffer LBP at some time in our life.
  4. The number one cause of not being able to work is LBP.  Number 2 is a cold.
  5. It is believed that at this very moment, 31 million individuals in the US have LBP.
  6. The number one cause of not being able to work or function, in the world, is LBP.
  7. Mechanical causes (alignment & positioning of the joints) is the usual cause of LBP.  Fractures, cancer, infections, and inflammatory conditions causing LBP are seen much less frequently.

Sometimes adjusting ones work station (monitor and keyboard position), lifting properly, using a medium-firm mattress, proper footwear (also orthotics or a heel lift), improve posture, avoiding smoke, avoiding too much bed rest or inactivity, improving one diet, and exercise help to prevent LBP.

Obesity is also very prevalent:  35.6% of US adults are obese

  1. 33% of children are overweight and 17% of children are obese.  In adults 2/3 have a BMI between 24 and 29.9, which classifies them as overweight, and 1/3 have a BMI over 30, which classifies them as obese.
  2. In 2010 12 states had a greater than 30% obesity, but back in 2000 no state had this great of an obesity prevalence.  Despite efforts to lower obesity rates, no state in the US has met recent objectives to do so.  The US has seen a great increase in obesity prevalence from 1990 through 2010.
  3. Obesity rates vary depending upon ethnicity:  49.5% (non-hispanic blacks).  40.4% (Mexican Americans).  39.1%l Hispanics.  34.3% non-Hispanic whites.  (JAMA, 2012; 307(5):491-97).
  4. Medical expenses are astronomically greater for the obese—it is believed that $147 billion was spent on associated medical costs and that an average of $1429 additionally is spent per year on medical care fo the obese compared to those of a normal body weight.
  5. The number one cases of preventable death, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are related to the condition of obesity.  As such obesity is the number one cause of preventable death.

Does being overweight cause back pain?  Actually sometimes yes.  Chronic back as well as leg pain is sometimes associated with being overweight and with weight-loss the severity, frequency and duration of back pain will usually reduce.

Reference:  On 1-15-2013 the medical journal Spine reported the results of a Norwegian study when found a significant increased prevalence of LBP reported in the obese (BMI greater than 30) compared to those of a normal weight.  Chronic LBP, meaning LBP for greater than 3 months in the prior year, was correlated with obesity in this study.

This information is not to be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please talk to your health care provider for anything related to your health including but not limited to diagnosis, treatment advice and/or care. Always seek the advice of a health care professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone.