Is there something more fundamental to our existence than diet and nutrition? Most of us eat at least three times a day, every day. This has a cumulative effect—either diet and nutrition help fuel our body or they harm it. Bad nutrition, diet, and obesity can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic pain. Knowing about vitamins, proper nutritional balance, and effective methods to shed weight can help someone give their life a new start.
Patients who are overweight or obese and suffer from back pain may not be aware that their excess weight is actually contributing to their back pain.
While it has not been thoroughly studied exactly how excess weight can cause or contribute to back pain, it is known that people who are overweight often are at greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain than those who are not obese.1
In addition to back pain, symptoms exhibited by persons who are obese or severely overweight may include fatigue, as well as difficulty breathing and shortness of breath during short periods of exercise.2
If the fatigue and shortness of breath causes one to avoid activity and exercise, then this can indirectly lead to back pain as lack of exercise contributes to many common forms of back pain
This article examines the heightened risk and severity for certain back problems that obese or overweight patients may experience as a result of their weight. The article also provides practical tips and guidelines for how patients can use exercise, diet and weight loss to reduce their back pain.
Nutrition :Conditions Related to Obesity
Obese or overweight patients may experience sciatica and low back pain from a herniated disc. This occurs when discs and other spinal structures are damaged from having to compensate for the pressure of extra weight on the back
In addition, pinched nerves and piriformis syndrome may result when extra weight is pushed into spaces between bones in the low back area.3
Arthritis of the spine that causes back pain may be aggravated when extra body weight strains joints. Those patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 25 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than those with a lower BMI. The American Obesity Association recommends modest weight loss as a treatment for some types of osteoarthritis.2
The effectiveness of back surgery may also be affected by a patient’s weight. Obese patients are at higher risk for complications and infections after surgery compared to patients who are not obese.2 For seriously overweight patients, paying attention to weight loss before undergoing back surgery may improve the healing process after surgery.
Identifying the Need for Weight Loss
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure commonly used by medical practitioners. BMI is a mathematical formula (BMI=kg/m2) that takes into account a person’s weight in kilograms and height in meters and calculates a number. The higher a person’s BMI falls on a pre-determined range of values, the higher the likelihood for obesity.
Although there is some debate over the specific meaning of BMI measurements, a BMI of 30 or higher is typically considered to be obese, while a measure of 25 to 29.9 is typically considered to be overweight.4
It is also important to evaluate where excess fat is carried on the patient’s body. Patients who carry more weight around their midsection are at greater risk for obesity-related health problems, such as low back pain. Weight loss for health considerations is often advisable for women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches.