5 Ways Obesity Compounds Back Problems

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Obesity & Back Pain

A lot of us are carrying around a little more weight than we did in our younger days, but we may not be aware of how those couple extra pounds are affecting our back. It stands to reason that if you’re heavier, your body has to handle more stress with every step you take, but that’s not the only way in which your back can suffer because of your extra weight. Below, we take a closer look at five ways being overweight or obese can compound back problems.

Obesity and Spine Health

Here are some oft-overlooked ways in which being overweight can impact your spine health.

  1. Spinal Disc Degeneration – Building off the point we alluded to in the intro, extra weight means that your spinal discs, which act as shock absorbers for your spine, have to absorb more stress with each step you take. Spinal disc degeneration is a natural process, but extra weight often speeds up the process. Losing weight will take stress these discs and reduce the speed at which they break down.
  2. Inactivity – Inactivity and excess weight often go hand in hand, but if you’re overweight and that contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, you’re not going to be doing good by your spine. Exercise is needed to keep spinal structures strong and healthy, so they are at greater risk for injury if they aren’t being physically challenged on a regular basis. Muscle loss occurs more frequently in overweight individuals who choose not to exercise.
  3. Sleep Disruption – Chronic back pain can be brought upon by sleep problems, and being overweight has been linked to some sleep problems like sleep apnea. If you’re not getting enough restful sleep, inflammation can develop in your spine and lead to compression issues. Losing weight can help you achieve more restful sleep, which can go a long way in helping your spine stay healthy.
  4. Surgical Risks – Obesity also presents additional challenges during a surgical procedure. Obese individuals are more likely to have certain conditions like hypertension or diabetes that can make surgery or recovery more difficult. Certain risk factors like bleeding or anesthesia problems are also higher among obese individuals. Getting to a healthy weight can help improve the likelihood of a successful surgery.
  5. Posture – Finally, being at an unhealthy weight can lead people to naturally shift their posture into an unhealthy position. If you’re slouching on the couch or reclined in the car in part because of your weight, extra stress will be channeled through your lumbar spine. Overweight and obese individuals are also at a greater risk for spinal curvature problems and lumbar spine pain than healthy weight individuals. No matter your weight, it’s a good idea to perform regular posture checks to ensure you’re in alignment and stress is displaced as it should through your back.

For help managing your weight or your back issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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