Weight loss is known to have substantial health benefits. A new study has confirmed that patients who lose weight may experience substantially reduced back pain and sciatica.
Obese patients frequently report lower back pain and sciatica. Research shows that having a higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity, may slow recovery from back pain and increase your risk of common sciatica causes such as lumbar disc degeneration. Decreased space between spinal discs, a potential result of obesity, can cause nerve impingement and sciatica pain.
The new study involved 30 morbidly obese participants who underwent weight-loss surgery. As they lost weight, the space between lumbar spinal discs increased, reducing pressure on the nerves. Patients reported a substantial reduction in lower back pain and radiating leg pain. Weight loss has also been shown to alleviate knee pain.
For patients who are concerned with the risks and costs of bariatric surgery, there are non-invasive weight loss methods available. A new literature review found that exercise and physical therapy may also reduce obese patients’ back pain. Chiropractic care can also provide back-pain relief for overweight and obese patients.
1. Djurasovic M, Bratcher KR, Glassman S, et a. The Effect of Obesity on Clinical Outcomes After Lumbar Fusion. Spine 2008; 33(16): 1789-1792.
2. Baumgarten K, Walter C, and Watson E. The Effect of Obesity on Orthopaedic Conditions. South Dakota State Medical Association. http://www.sdsma.org/documents/Carlson.pdf.
3. Samartzis D, Karppinen J, Chan D, et al. The association of lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration on magnetic resonance imaging with body mass index in overweight and obese adults: A population-based study. Arthritis and Rheumatism 2012; 64(5): 1488-1496.
4. Lidar Z, Behrbalk E, Regev GJ, et al. Intervertebral Disc Height Changes after Weight Reduction in Morbid Obese Patients, its Effect on Life Quality, Radicular and Low Back Pain. Spine 2012. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31825fab16.
5. Atchison J and Vincent H. Obesity and low back pain: relationships and treatment. Pain Management 2012; 2(1): 79-86/(doi: 10.2217/pmt.11.64)